Simply Writing | THE LESS THAN MIGHTY ‘AS’

In Creative Writing by RWA Blog Coordinator24 Comments

I’ve received a lot of requests to do a SIMPLY WRITING post on pacing, and I promise, this is something I’ll definitely address in the future. But as a codicil to that post, I’d like to address an issue that contributes to slower paced writing, something I’ve seen in quite a few WIPs lately—mine included!

The less than mighty ‘AS’.

Why do I mark this seemingly nondescript word with such a diminutive label? Because this reference—the less than mighty—is the effect the word ‘as’ wages on our writing. But first, before we get caught up in the ‘why nots?’, let’s explore the context in which the ‘as’ is less than mighty.

Here, I’m talking about a sentence which is two actions linked by ‘as’. In this case, ‘as’ becomes what is called a ‘conjunction’. This is a joining word or ‘gluing word’.

Example:

Ouch! I tripped, slamming my knee into the ground as a dog zipped across my path.

Here’s a great example of the detrimental effect of using the conjunction ‘as’ in our writing. In this case, this is what could be termed as a CAUSE AND EFFECT sentence. 

CAUSE: A dog zipped across my path.

EFFECT: I tripped, slamming my knee into the ground.

So, how is it that such a little word can cause such big problems in our writing?

Can anyone spot the problem with the above example? 

This sentence structure poses two problems:

  1. Our CAUSE sentence comes after the EFFECT sentence—essentially these two events are written out of chronological order. 
  2. In a situation where impact is the key, the weight of our CAUSE sentence is weakened.

Let’s revisit our example and see what happens if we delete the ‘AS’.

Example:

Ouch! I tripped, slamming my knee into the ground as a dog zipped across my path.

BECOMES

A dog zipped across my path. I tripped, slamming my knee into the ground. Ouch!

See how this example makes chronological sense now? It has impact and has logic. It’s also tidier and less cumbersome for the reader.

Let’s visit another example:

The kids cheered as George kicked his third goal. 

Think about this sentence. Think about the events outlined in this here and whether they make sense as is. 

What would this look like if we remove the ‘as’?

George kicked his third goal. The kids cheered.

What do you think?

Now, it’s your turn. 

Rework the following sentences by eliminating the conjunction ‘as’:

Sheree jumped as thunder ripped through the night sky.

The car skidded to a halt as Jack slammed on the brakes. 

The cat squealed as Toby stood on her tail.

Glass shattered and the wild winds swept through the room as a brick slammed through the window.

Buddy barked as I grabbed his lead for our morning walk. 

I made for the passenger’s side of Dan’s car, sliding in as he turned the ignition and the paltry engine roared to life.

How did you go? Can you feel how much tighter, how much stronger these sentences become once you remove the ‘as’?

And that’s all folks!

I hope you’ve found this month’s post helpful ☺ Who knows, hopefully I’ve helped increase the pace of your writing, even if by just a little. If you have any questions, make sure you post them in the comments beneath the blog and I’ll be sure to get back to you. Or if you have any examples where you’ve used ‘as’ and have reworded the sentence to increase your pacing, please post them too!

Firstly, thank you all for coming back this month. I really appreciate every one of you reading, commenting and sharing my posts. 

And, there’s no better time than now to announce last month’s winner for the 30 minute skype session: 

Drum roll . . . 

And the winner is:

DANIELLE LINE!!!

Congratulations Danielle. Please email me on info@michelle-somers.com to discuss redeeming your skype session. 

And if you haven’t won yet, don’t despair. Once again this month, I’m offering one lucky commenter a half hour skype session to discuss anything writing related. It could be your query, your synopsis or 300 words from your current work in progress. Yes, you heard right. We get to chat, face-to-face—or computer screen to computer screen—about whatever it is about your writing you’d like to discuss.

To enter the draw, please comment below and share the most surprising or useful thing you’ve learned since reading my Simply Writing blogs. Any ideas on what you’d like to see featured on future blogs will be gratefully received. Or perhaps you’d like to share how you’ll start to incorporate a more active voice into your current WIP.

Any and all comments welcome! I love reading your feedback and input each month ☺ and much as this blog isn’t set up for notifications, I always ALWAYS answer your comments. So make sure you pop back to check my replies ☺

If you’d like extra chances to win, share links to this blog on any or all social media sites. Tag me so I know you’ve shared, and the more shares, the more times I’ll place your name in the draw.

A name will be drawn in time for next month’s blog so please pop back next month to see if you’re a winner ☺

Thanks so much to you all for stopping by. Have a fabulous month, and I’ll see you all again in December ☺

Michelle xx


Michelle Somers

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image003-150x150.jpg

Michelle Somers is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making, and Emmie, a furry black feline who thinks she’s a dog. Her debut novel, Lethal in Love won the Romance Writers of Australia’s 2016 Romantic Book of the Year (RuBY) and the 2013 Valerie Parv Award. The second in her Melbourne Murder series, Murder Most Unusual was released in February 2017.

In between books, she runs workshops – both face-to-face and online – for writers wanting to hone their craft. The first book in her Simply Writing Series, Simply Synopsis, is changing the way writers craft this vital, yet perplexing, writing tool. And through her Simply Writing series of blogs, she hopes to simplify so much more.

You can find out all about Michelle, her adventures and her books at her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.


Comments

    1. lol, thanks ML.
      Hope you’re not finding too many ‘as’ conjunctions in your writing 🙂
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting each month.
      Best of luck in the draw!
      Michelle xx

  1. Hi Michelle

    True confession time: I am an AS fiend! Those two little letters seem to creep in everywhere, almost as if… whoops, I’m doing it again!

    Seriously, I had never noticed that the kind of AS construction you discuss in your blog usually involves reversing the actual chronological order. Why would we want to do that?

    I am going to have to ween myself off this pesky conjunction, but I suspect it won’t be easy. Hopefully, being aware of this issue will, as (?) with most addictions, lead to eventual recovery.

    Thanks for your interesting article.

    Kind regards
    Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon
      True confession: AS am I 🙂
      I can’t tell you how many times I find this little word wheedling its way into my writing!
      So glad you’re going to look out for them now.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Best of luck in the draw!
      Michelle xx

  2. Thanks Michelle! How can something so simple, make such a huge difference? I’ve noticed this in my writing before, but now I’m going to go through with a fine-tooth comb and amend those pesky ‘as’ conjunctions!

    1. Hi Jodi
      I know! It’s amazing what a difference this tweak can make to writing. How much more impact and punch you can get just from its deletion.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Wishing you heaps of luck for the draw.
      Michelle xx

  3. When I read your post yesterday Michelle – I felt personally called out!! A couple of people have mentioned this to me about my writing but I didn’t really understand why they thought my use (overuse!) of it needing revising – but now I do! Thankyou for explaining so succinctly!

    1. Hi Nancy
      lol! I’m so glad I was able to help you with this!
      Thanks so much for letting me know (and for being such an awesome blog coordinator 🙂 )
      Best of luck in the draw!
      Michelle xx

  4. First, thank you Michelle. What a wonderful opportunity. I will be in touch. 🙂

    Second – AHA moment. Another clue to look for when I’m concerned with pacing. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Hi Dannielle
      My pleasure! Congratulations again for winning 🙂
      Love those a-ha moments.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting each month.
      Can’t wait to hear from you and have our critique session.
      Michelle xx

  5. Simple, brilliant little exercises that show the difference in pacing immediately . Well done. Thanks. 🌹🙏

  6. Thanks Michelle,
    I never noticed this little ‘as’ word until you mentioned it in your recent OWL. I’m now conscious of it when editing as, lol, I haven’t weaned myself off writing it yet 😂

    1. Hi Helen
      Isn’t it funny how apparent they become when you’re more aware? 🙂
      I’m so glad you’re looking out for them as you edit now.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Best of luck with the draw.
      Michelle xx

  7. Oh wow this was useful. I had no idea how often I sneaked in this kind of “as”! Really helps with re-ordering and shortening sentences when editing.

    Thanks
    Michelle

    1. Hi Karina
      I’m so glad you found this useful 🙂 Yes, that little ‘as’ seems to sneak in whenever we’re not paying attention. So easy to let it go unnoticed. I’m glad you’re actively looking for it now as you edit.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting each month.
      Best of luck in the draw!
      Michelle xx

    1. Hey Tanya
      It’s so easy to overuse! It’s one of my ‘flags’ for when I edit. I often use it without even realizing!!!
      Glad this post has made it easy for you 🙂
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Best of luck for the draw!
      Michelle xx

  8. Really informative, useful post, as always! 🙂 I had to get an ‘as’ in there lol

    1. lol!
      ‘as’ gets in everywhere!
      So glad you found the post helpful, Sandra.
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Love that you support the blog every month.
      Best of luck in the draw.
      Michelle xx

  9. Hi Michelle,
    I’m currently editing my 25K novella and 132 of those words are ‘as’. EEK! More editing to come, I reckon. :/

    1. Hi Kennece
      Lol. Amazing how such a little word seems to slip into our writing so much 🙂
      So glad I’ve been able to help you with your editing.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment.
      Best of luck in the draw.
      Michelle xx

  10. After reading your article I looked back on my first two novels (as I’m re-editing for a special box release). I’m horrified to note that along with my pet-redundant word ‘then’, I have found ‘as’. Michelle, you gave brilliant sample sentences to drive home your point. I switched them around. OMG you are right (of course)! Each can be improved once the cause and effect are found and ‘as’ is removed. Chronological order is a fundamentally simple matter but sometimes our writer’s brains are wired weirdly (at least mine is).
    This is something I have struggled with. I tend to write the first draft quickly (while the muse is having her way). I search for redundant words (like the dreaded ‘then’) in later drafts and edits. I will add ‘as’ to the list of words to watch out for.
    My writing has improved thanks to another simple tip. Simply Writing blog has my vote. Thanks once again, Michelle.

    1. Hi Donna
      Wow, thank you so much for your lovely words 🙂 I’m so glad you found the topic of this month’s blog helpful.
      Best of luck with your re-editing.
      And heaps of luck with this month’s draw!
      Michelle xx

Leave a Comment