The dreaded "was"....
"Was" is a horrible criminal, you see he always steels the spot light from our verbs.
Here is a small paragraph showing you just how sneaky this little guy can be, and well I only call him little because he has three letters, and frankly he packs no punch.
The next man up was Hammering Harmon. His bat was nervously held on his shoulder. Two strikes and a ball were thrown. The crowd was tense with hope. The fourth pitch was delivered by Old Roundhouse Ford. Even while the ball was in the air, there was a feeling of expectation among the fans. The ball was hit squarely by Harmon. It was lifted up high into left field. It was in the stands. It was his tenth home run.
Look at that! He snuck in there 11 times! Now I realize most of us do not write "was" that many times, but I'm emphasizing here, you know I have to make up for his um....whispers: shortness
So now what can we do? We have to ease him out, we use active verbs in order to do this, and sometimes it takes a little finesse on our part to rearrange the sentence to make it active. Here is the same paragraph "was" free:
Next, Hammering Harmon trotted up. He shouldered his bat nervously. Two strikes and a ball whipped by him. The tense crowd buzzed with excitement. Old Roundhouse Ford hurled his fourth pitch. Even while the ball hung in midair, expectation shivered through the fans. Harmon blasted the ball, which rocketed over left field and nose-dived into the stands. Harmon had hammered his tenth homer of the year.
As you can see, I replaced all the "was" with active verbs . This increased the flow of the paragraph and made it a more enjoyable read.
remember "was" equals passive sentences.
Now we can go to his sly cousin "That." I say sly because "That" is easily taken care of, simply remove this little devil from your sentence. Most of the time, the sentence will stand alone quite well with out "that" helping.
Go give it a try, highlight all the "was" and "thats" in your written story, and if you are brave post in the comments how many you found. If you only found one or two in the whole piece, CONGRATS!
How many did you find?