• The Collaborative Press

How to avoid "WAS" in fiction

One aspect of fiction writing I've needed constant reminders with is how to eliminate the "WAS" words. I have a dear critique partner, Gwen, who helps keep me on track. I'd like to share an example of her edits which illustrates how to avoid "was".

Excerpts from Chapter Thirteen

Acres of Promise

By Lisa Renee

Tim lived five hours away in Albany, but he owned acreage which Chantelle saw as a massive bonus. She could do the long-distance relationship for a year or so, and it’d be easier to keep the physical temptations to a minimum. The six-inch rule would certainly be achievedable. She laughed to herself.

Richard, she liked the best. He lived on the other side of Australia. Meaghan had set her profile to Western Australia, but both she and Richard hadn’t realized they’d lived in different states until their conversations got cranking. They had so much in common. He had a solid background in Christianity and liked the same old songs, preachers, and similar doctrine beliefs. Richard was Eight years her senior, and Richard had four adult children.

Then there was Anthony. She scrolled over to Anthony’s stared at his profile picture. Not super attractive in looks, but that wasn’tcharacter and beliefs were much more important to her compared with character and beliefs. He lived in the metro, worked two weeks away, and one week home. He had a ten-year-old that stayed with him when he was resided in town. Perhaps he and Noah could become friends. Now, that was thinkingthought veered too far ahead at this stage—one step at a time. Long term friendship first—well that should be the plan, anyway.


Another example:

Her eyebrows furrowed as she studied the contents of the shopping cart. Nutragrain Iron man food—expensive. A massive tin of Milo chocolate powder—that’d last one week. Chips, popcorn, and Fanta. She sighed. So much had changed from when Noah was little. When a young boy, Hhe’d loved raw vegetables, whole foods, fruits, and rice crackers for snacks.


The trolley vibrated as it rolled over the bumpy bitumen. Her eyes adjusted to the sunlight and Chantelle looked to her right wheretoward the Ford would be.

Noah said somethingspoke first. “What’s that next to our car?”