Thursday Thoughts: More Words That Have to Go

28 Apr

8:57 am — Atlanta

Hello dear readers. I hope everyone is well and writing. Today, I shall speak about a group of words and then we will take a week’s break from my telling you what you should not be using. Next week I shall talk about some internet resources I have found worth bookmarking. Then, it’s back to words that should be used sparingly.

The grouping for today:

this is,
is when,
is where,
here is/are, there is/are

The main problems with these phrases are their blandness, lack of specificity, and use of verbs of being, which contribute to the blandness. They say nothing. I said in a blog about active versus being verbs: This is not to say never use being verbs. Sometimes we want to have a state of being, but too much being leaves the reader with a fuzzy, and often dull, image. There is nothing to see when something is, as opposed to something running, singing, breaking…When you use being verbs, do so with deliberation and an awareness of the effect.

You read: “Look. There’s John.” Or you read: “Look. John is standing over by the fountain.” Which gives you a picture?

You read: “Where’s the bread?” “It’s here.” Or you read “The bread is on the cutting board.” I am still using a being verb in the second example, but I am talking about the state of the bread’s location. I am being specific about “here”.

In poetry your phrasing will be less stilted, but the rules of specificity and sensory imagery still apply. You need to give the poem and your readers something to hang onto: active verbs, specific whens and wheres.Your objective is to engage the readers’ senses.

Be aware in your own reading, not just of poetry, but of newspapers, magazines, and novels, of how often these phrases appear and how much the writing lacks because of them. Be aware, too, of the writing that does not use these phrases and how much richer and more concrete what you are reading about becomes.

Short and sweet today. I am in recovery mode from having a temporary crown put on a molar yesterday. I shall see you back here tomorrow for the last of the short roundups. Next week we are into May and I shall return to the regular roundup list. Tuesday will be ballad day, and next Thursday, bookmarkable sites.

Happy writing.


Posted by on 28/04/2011 in poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: More Words That Have to Go

  1. Digital Poetry

    28/04/2011 at 11:37 am

    Excellent post! I enjoyed reading it very much.

    Poetry will never loose it’s touch even as we enter this digital age. Thanks for sharing.

    A Poem for Mothers

    • margo roby

      28/04/2011 at 11:57 am

      Thank you so much. I enjoyed you Mother’s Day haiku.

  2. Digital Poetry

    28/04/2011 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you so much for reading. I have subscribed to your blog. You layout is amazing!

  3. margo roby

    28/04/2011 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you! I confess I have worked at it, but I find it fun, so not work!

  4. Josephine Faith Gibbs

    28/04/2011 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you for this series, Margo. I find myself thinking about these words even in conversations with my kids.

  5. margo roby

    28/04/2011 at 2:53 pm

    Wait until I take on the pronoun “you,” Josephine! I am much more aware of my conversation now and the awareness doesn’t go away.

  6. Linda H.

    28/04/2011 at 5:21 pm

    Good advice. Can’t wait for the pronoun “you”.

  7. margo roby

    28/04/2011 at 5:26 pm

    Oh, I get on my soapbox with “you”. 🙂

  8. Madeleine Begun Kane

    28/04/2011 at 8:00 pm

    Excellent advice! And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. pamela

    28/04/2011 at 8:39 pm

    Excellent post, Margo. I hadn’t looked at it the way you presented it here. I’ll be back for your prompts (which I enjoy) after April madness is over.


  10. margo roby

    28/04/2011 at 8:58 pm

    I’ll be glad to see you, Pamela. Two more days. You’ll be just in time for the ballad!


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