INDIE Editor Grammar Tips: Overuse of ‘As’

The misuse and overuse of ‘as’ can negatively affect how your writing in perceived. Time to learn how to kick your ‘as’. Let’s get started.

‘As’ is most commonly misused and overused when trying to portray a series of events.

There’s nothing grammatically incorrect about using ‘as’ to show a person doing something at the same time as something else.

However, overuse of ‘as’ makes your writing look amateurish and clunky.

Particularly when there are many other ways to flex your writing kahunas.

Yes, I used the word ‘kahunas’.

A simple guide:
‘As’ shouldn’t be used to mean:

  • at the same time
  • at the same time as
  • because
  • while
  • when.

What, when, how?

Events in the real world can happen at the same time.

Events in fiction happen sequentially.

Why?

Because readers prefer to read sequentially.

It’s less jarring and, more importantly, it’s better writing.

Example:
John put his arm around Margery as Bill entered the garden.

We know that Bill can enter the garden at the same time that John is putting his arm around Margery.

However, the events need to be described sequentially for the reader to make more sense of the action:

John put his arm around Margery. Bill entered the garden. 

Creating a sequence of events makes it easier for the reader to follow your action.

Another Example:
Bill grimaced as John put his arm around Margery.

The above is a common error.

At first glance it appears all is well and fine.

Let’s take a closer look at the example with reference to cause-and-effect.

What is the cause?
John putting his arm around Margery.

What is the effect?
Bill grimacing.

Both cannot happen simultaneously as the example suggests.

John must put his arm around Margery before Bill can react with his grimace.

The fix? Let’s try two solutions:

John put his arm around Margery. Bill grimaced.

Bill grimaced because John put his arm around Margery.

Notice how using ‘because’ makes the second example grammatically correct, but that it’s still clunky.

You can do better!

How to show-off my writing kahunas?

See sentences connected by ‘as’ – or using ‘while’, ‘because’, ‘while’, ‘when’ – as an opportunity to flex your writing muscles.

How about:

John put his arms around Margery, cradling her for the first time. The crack of a breaking twig and Margery froze. John glanced toward the sound. Bill stood watching them, a grimace plastered across his face.

Sure, the above prose needs some work. But the sequence of events is more easily defined. And not one ‘as’ in sight.

Tip

Separate your scene into a series of sentences for each event.

This will allow you to get a sense of the scene. Of cause and effect.

Then rewrite the scene using these sentences, adding extra nuance where needed.

Avoid using ‘as’ or any other connecting words.

Being real about writing

Do I occasionally use ‘as’ when writing cause and effect? Every now and then. Sure I do.

Grammar use in fiction, is a guide only.

But to break the rules, you have to know them.


Please take a look at my handy grammar guide.

The Complete INDIE Editor – 55 Essential copy-edits for the Professional Independent Author

It covers the overuse of ‘as’ in the section ‘Tricky Words’ and a whole lot more.

Amazon Reviews:

“Easy to follow and packed with usable tips…well worth the few dollars.”

“It has given me a lot more confidence in my writing and helped me identify some schoolgirl errors. More than anything, it helped me clarify what is good and bad writing.”

“I’m now happily writing with confidence in my own style. A very useful guide I’d highly recommend.”

An essential companion for an effective writing process.

Available in Kindle and Paperback

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The Complete Indie Editor now available in print!

It’s finally here, the paperback edition…

The Complete Indie Editor - Paperback Edition

Copy-Editing for the Professional Indie Author

We are living in a new publishing age. The way books are bought, sold and printed has radically changed. The reason? The move towards self-publishing.

Independent authors can now publish their own novels when they want, how they want, and with a cover they are happy with. Indeed, independent publishing provides many new and exciting opportunities for authors.

To become successful independent authors, we must write and publish as professionally as we can. With that in mind, I created this guide. The Indie Editor will not tell you how to self-publish, how to get cool covers, or how to market your publications, but it will explain, in a series of fifty-five edits, how to prepare your manuscript for publication or for submitting to your editor or beta-readers

When you publish as an Indie Author, be it on an electronic devise such as the Kindle or as a printed novel through Createspace or other print-on-demand services, readers are evaluating your writing by using Free First Chapter, etc. With so many novels competing against one another, you need all the tools you can get to convert interest into a buy…

Welcome to the world of copy-editing – the revision, correction and adaptation of a piece of writing for publication. An edit is the singular name given to an individual edit or group of edits in the process of copy-editing. By working through this guide, you will apply each of the fifty-five edits to your novel.

These Copy-edits include:

*Redundant adjectives & overuse of adverbs
*Over thirty overused words & phrases such as that, it, up/down, was/were, had, even, got, etc.
*Overuse of exclamations and the ellipsis
*Proper use of italics, quotations & capitalisation
*Word pairs & homophones
*How to handle numbers & time
…And descriptions of flow, show not tell, writing tenses, dialogue handling and more.

Applying these copy-edits to your fiction will allow reviewers and readers to evaluate your novel purely on the strength of your story and not on clumsy and weak prose, overuse of adverbs, repetition and flabbiness. Your readers may not understand why your fiction is more engaging, but subconsciously they will respond to the improved flow, the more immediate prose and leaner sentences.

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The Indie Editor is a one-stop copy-editing shop to improve your novel before publication.

Welcome to the world of Copy-editing!

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