When we overuse the verb to be, we call the writing wuzzy, as in, This manuscript is boring because it’s full of wuzzies. Wuzzy writing doesn’t break any grammar rules, but looking closely at the grammar of a wuzzy sentence can help make it a sexy sentence.
Wuzzies with Adjectives:
Your thighs are soft, and my heart is hot.
When a to be verb precedes an adjective, consider tacking that adjective to its noun in a tighter, more visual sentence. Maybe like this:
Your soft thigh brushes mine, and my heart beats hot.
In these cases, eradicating the wuzzy can save you an entire sentence because you can delete the sentence and add the adjective to that subject in an adjacent sentence.
“Just believe me” or telling wuzzies:
Ava was the babe who walked into the room and set it on fire.
When a to be verb makes a claim without offering any visual example, the reader’s left unconvinced or worse, bored. This is what writing teachers mean about when they say “show—don’t tell.” So fix it by showing.
Ava’s sexy strut and bold energy lit the room on fire.
Wuzzies that create overwriting:
What I hear are your rapid breaths and the air filling your chest, in and out.
When a to be verb is the secondary verb in a sentence, you can usually just cut it, like this:
Air filled his lungs, in and out. I heard nothing else.
Exercise: Use your word processing software’s find or search feature, check the “highlight all” box, and then scan through your document to see how many of each of these verbs you are using: was, are, am, were, is, it’s, would be.
Study the examples above and try to identify with each example you find in your own writing what kind of wuzzy you’ve got. This should make the fixing easier.
Of course, you needn’t eradicate every single wuzzy, but having them highlighted should help you to see how often they appear in your draft. This visual map gives you the opportunity to make a conscious decision about just how often you want to use the to be verb construction. Look for places where the highlighting shows wuzzies too concentrated for your tastes, and cut down the numbers in those sections.
What is Sexy Grammar?
It’s the fun way we present writing tools and grammar guidelines. But it’s also a philosophy—that writing and art satisfy a human urge to create, not unlike sex. Sexy Grammar is about letting your inner writer be sexy—aroused, engaged, and unapologetic. When you do that, your writing gets sexy, and that attracts readers. You can get Private Sexy Grammar Lessons here.