I'm having trouble lately with my "was, were" usage. I never thought about it too much before, but I heard an editor speaking the other day and he commented that he could tell an amateur writer by his (or her) use of was and were. He counted them up and if there were more than...I don't remember the number...like 4-8 I think...on a page, then he wrote the writer off as a newb!
I'm concerned about my use of "was" and "were" now.
I wish I knew more about this. Guess I have some reading to do...
Here's a clip of some current writing (warning - I have not editted this so it is raw Gates)
"The sight of Hadrian’s Wall always amazed Taliesin. He stared in awe as they approached. It had been visible now for hours, but as they got closer, it seemed to grow taller and taller.
“First time seeing the wall, bard?” Lamorak asked.
“No,” Taliesin replied. “I have been here before, but it still amazes me.”
“You have been above the wall?” Lamorak asked.
“No,” Taliesin said.
“Then why would you come here? Just to see it? Are you an Engineer as well?”
“As a bard, I travel a great deal,” Taliesin said. “I wanted to see the very line that divided the civilized world from barbarism.”
“Is that what the wall does?” Lamorak asked.
“According to the Romans,” Taliesin said.
“I live above the wall,” Gawain said where he rode close by. “I hardly find it to be barbaric. Rough maybe. The North requires hardy people, but it’s not as uncivilized as the Romans thought.”
“Not everyone thinks so highly of Roman ‘civilization’ anyway,” Morgan said with a smile.
“What can we expect above the wall, Gawain?” Arthur asked.
“It’s hard to say, Arthur,” Gawain replied. “When we traveled from Lothian, we traveled with an army. I saw the roads and the towns along the roads, but I have not ventured into the wilds much, except on hunting trips.”
“I have traveled the North extensively, Arthur,” Merlin said. “The people there are people like everywhere else. They are proud of their lands and they are fearful of outsiders. The project an image of ferocity and barbarism to keep you from wanting to ride through the gates of Hadrian’s Wall. They are not monsters and they don’t eat babies.”
“So there are no monsters above the wall?” Taliesin asked.
“I didn’t say that,” Merlin replied.
Taliesin looked at the aged wizard and wondered, not for the first time, just what mysteries Merlin had seen in his years.
The Wall loomed ahead, almost obscured through a falling snow that almost made it look like a ship coming out of the fog. The Milecastles could be seen by the flickering torches and fires that warmed the soldiers there. Directly ahead of Arthur’s party was a large fort, Aesica or “Great Chesters”
The smell of the wood fires drifted across the road and it carried with it the smell of roasting meat. Taliesin’s stomach grumbled. After weeks on the road, the thought of a fort and a well appointed kitchen struck his fancy.
“Smells good, eh?” Arthur said. “Perhaps we’ll eat better than the black bread and stew we have eaten at the way stations along the road.”
“I would like a bath and a bed,” Morgan said.
I would like to join you, Taliesin thought, but he didn’t give words to this thoughts. Morgan had been ignoring him more lately and he wondered if she was finished with him. It hurt him to think she might be. He was very fond of the learned priestess.
“Look, someone’s coming,” Merlin said, pointing up the road towards Aesica.
A pair of figures were riding towards Arthur’s party. They would surely have recognized the Pendragon standard that Bors held aloft.
“I believe it’s Lucan,” Arthur said. “I don’t recognize the man he is with, though he looks like a Ranger. Not one of Alymere’s Ghost, though.”
Arthur was right. It was Lucan, Bedivere’s half brother and second in command of The Bulls.
“I wonder if he found Bedivere like I asked?” Arthur wondered aloud.
Lucan was dressed in his armored finery as befitted a cavalry officer. His breastplate was polished, his boiled leather was shiny and neat. His blue cape floated behind him as he rode. He wore no helmet, letting his long blonde hair flow behind him. The resemblance to Bedivere was clearly visible and Taliesin saw Morgan watching the approaching warrior. Taliesin thought he saw admiration for Lucan in Morgan’s eyes and Lucan was truly a fine specimen, like his half-brother. Taliesin felt the hot stab of jealousy. "
I included a section where I described a character - in this case Lucan. See what you think