I was going to write about what I was reading in Word Up!

Boring sentence. Marcia wants powerful sentences. She challenges us to write without extraneous “be-verbs”… be-verbs that lack muscle! (p. 13)

Some examples (14):

Before: “A scheme of which every part promises delight can never be successful.” (Jane Austen)

After: A scheme of which every part promises delight can never succeed.


Before: Our product is better than your product. (any company)

After: Our product eats your product’s lunch.

OR (my version of this)

Before: This house is beautiful.

After: I like this vibrant green house!


Marcia describes three types of be-verbs: the linking verb, the expletive-supporting (“expletive” = “dummy word”) verb (p. 16), and the passive-voice auxiliary. She defines her terms and provides clear examples. But she also gives credence to “the other side”—that there are (oops…a weak linking verb snuck in)…that at times, be­-verbs belong. (pp. 16-17)

  • Use a linking be when we play with a common expression: “Boring is in the eye of the beholder.”
  • Use an expletive-supporting be to evoke melodrama: “It is I, Snidely Whiplash!” (Dudley Do-Right)
  • And even the passive-voice auxiliary may have a place when stating an action of an unknown doer: “The wheel was invented around 8000 BC.”

I like Marcia’s style and her honesty. I want to write powerful sentences. Marcia asserts that we’ll “…use fewer and fewer of them [be-verbs] as you fortify your writing.” (p. 18) 

These lessons are Wheaties for Writing! So I’ll keep eating…I mean reading Word Up!

Learn more about Word Up!