Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Common Problems (Part 40 of 50)

Avoid starting sentences with it was or there was. Because they're weak words you can usually delete them for better flow and fewer words.

* It was Saturday at the animal shelter, and it was alive with the. . . (Saturday at the shelter. . . or People scurried/bustled/hurried Saturday morning at the. . .)

* It was a spring weekend and we drove to Maine. (On a spring weekend. . . or We drove to Maine on a spring weekend.)

* It was a time when I had no other place to turn. (Better: I had no place to turn.)

* There’s a van coming right at us. (A van is coming right at us.) 

When I teach about not starting with those words, a few students remind me that Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities with that construction. He did it for effect—and it sounds lyrical. His novel starts with these words:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. . .
If I avoid starting sentences with constructions 
such as it was or there was
my writing is usually stronger.

1 comment:

  1. Cec, I love your blog. You are teaching us all soooo much. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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