I hate the word “as”. The irony of that is the number of times I will have to use it in this article to make my point. But, back to my point ….
Nothing says amateur writer quicker than the over-usage of that one small word. Don’t believe me? Take your latest first draft and count the usages of the word “as”. To be totally fair, I’ll do mine. Two thousand nine hundred and sixty words, and I used it nineteen times – a handful of those times in dialogue (which is often necessary) and the remainder in comparisons. For example, “as dark as midnight.” I’m not talking about comparisons in this article, but using “as” to show action. I used it in that manner only twice – that’s TWO times.
This is because there are a dozen better ways to convey the same message without that one small word, and even if you don’t agree with me, you have embraced “as” firmly in your writing, taking the time to remove it will make you a better writer. For one reason, it requires you to think. It’s easy to stick “as” in there and go on. Rearranging the sentence to remove it, however, takes a lot of brain power.
ALSO … Sometimes “as” is not accurate and leaving it in place makes the sentence untruthful. Check out the sentences below.
“Henry slammed the door as he skipped down the steps.” FALSE. Henry could not have possibly done both of those at once unless he had long arms.
“Henry slammed the door as he ate cake.” MAYBE. Okay, Henry could be eating cake and slamming the door. But what if we made the scene more exciting and took the time to delete “as”?
“A piece of cake firm in his palm, his face smeared with icing, Henry slammed the door, leaving behind a telltale stream of crumbs.” TRUE … AND now everyone knows Henry is a slob and where he’s headed.
HERE’S ANOTHER THOUGHT … “When” used to show action is almost as bad as (Ha!) using “as”. For example:
“When Henry slammed the door, he skipped down the steps.” FALSE. We’re back to Henry’s incredibly long arms.
“Henry slammed the door when he ate cake.” MAYBE. Like the example above, Henry could have done both.
But once again, why not eliminate “when” entirely and use sentence number three from our first example? It’s more detailed and gives a clearer version of events.
THE TRUTH … If a story has too much “as” in it, I rarely finish it because instead of reading, I’m rewriting the scene to get rid of “as”. That annoys me more than the word itself. So take the time to kick out “as” and instead, expand your vocabulary. There are thousands of fantastic words out there just waiting to be used. No better compliment can be made than when my editor flags a word because she doesn’t know it, and I can send her proof it exists.
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“I cannot find my way alone,” Serefina said softly.
His arms came around her, his hands landing in the middle of her back, and he pulled her to him. She leaned there, her cheek on his shoulder, his strength solid beneath her hands. Her eyes burned with tears she refused to shed, the corners dampening, and deep within her heart a tiny speck of hope glowed. For once, she didn’t toss it aside, but fearful, clung with all her might.
Penniless and alone, Serefina Aguilar has nowhere to go but south to an unknown uncle her recently deceased aunt only ever spoke unkindly about. It seems the downward spiral of her life really is the spiritual test she’s been told.
But, as long as she covers her greatest sin, the flaming red locks on her head, she can keep herself pure and make it to heaven. She hopes.
Except a horrible encounter with a bank robber and a handsome man named Matthew Todd seem destined to send her to hell … and worse, take along with her what might be her only chance at love.
Book 2 and the completion of the Western Women Series by best-selling author, SUZANNE D. WILLIAMS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.
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