I’m taking a class on pitches and blurbs. It’s a good class, and it’s helping me even more than I expected.
One of the most important elements of strong pitches and blurbs is using active language, and this means ridding your vocabulary of passive verbs. While there are plenty of passive verbs out there, my personal baddies are WAS and HAD.
This is a lesson not just for sales pitches and queries, but for manuscripts as well. When my instructor caught me up short for using passive language in my homework, I decided to check out my latest WIP, and hoo boy, am I glad I did. My current WIP is riddled with WASes and HADs.
So far, I’ve purged about 80% of them without needing to resort to grammar gymnastics (I made a game out of it), and I like the results. I like how my paragraphs come alive, and how the useless ‘extra’ words become immediately obvious.
So give it a try. Was, were, has, had, and their contractions can leave your prose flat and unappetizing. See what happens when you find a way to say the same thing using active verbs (actually, ANY other verbs). I bet you’ll like your results, too.