Lately in my revising, I’ve spotted a tendency in my writing that I’m not a fan of. Here are some examples:
- Then came another fire blast as Dante spun.
- Reptilian-skinned soldiers in pale armor chuckled as Victor passed them, then exploded into laughter at the beady-eyed one’s story.
- Freezing in place, Victor could do nothing but gape as Dante sat up, rubbing his face.
- He buzzed to life the laptop, eyes aching exhaustedly as the wall blipped with camera feeds and data scrolls.
- Victor retreated into the alley as they faded past the light of the streetlamp, and he portalled back to his apartment halfway across the city.
What do these all have in common?
I’ll give you one line to guess.
One more. 🙂
They use the word “as.” (Did you guess it correctly? Did you read my mind? Did you notice another entirely valid commonality?)
My personal issue with the word “as,” in the context of these sentences, is it whacks up the chronological order of events. It says “Event X happened as event Y happened.” But usually, event Y happened first, then event X happened as a result. Cause and effect. But backwards.
Take example #1. “Then came another fire blast” is event X. “Dante spun” is event Y. But in actuality, Dante had to spin around before the fire blast could come in POV character’s direction.
It creates extra work for the reader, who has to properly sort out events in their head, instead of having the story tell the events in the order they happened.
Of course, “as” isn’t an inherently bad word. Similes use “like” or “as” (the water glistened as a crystal) and that’s totally different than using “as” chronologically. And sometimes I’ll still use “as” in the middle of my sentences, because rewording the whole thing turns out more clunky/more work to decipher than it’s worth.
Writing is subjective, after all, so I won’t give advice like “never use the word ‘as’ in your sentences.”
But I have found that sentences I restructured to remove “as” come across more impactfully. Here are some revised examples:
- But Dante spun, fire blasting in an arc.
- Victor trod past a group of reptilian-skinned soldiers in pale armor, who chuckled then exploded into laughter at the most beady-eyed one’s story.
- Dante sat up, rubbing his face. Frozen, Victor could do nothing but gape.
- He tapped the laptop to life, images projecting onto the wall. His eyes ached at the looping camera feeds and scrolling data.
- They faded into the shadows beyond a streetlamp, and Victor portaled back to his apartment halfway across the city.
So now we’ve got “Event X happened, then event Y happened,” and the story is easier to keep track of and more fun to get invested in.
For any writers out there, I hope this tip helps you in your revising!
And finally, if you’re interested in reading the whole Kree Annihilators story, you can find it over on Wattpad.