Incorrect Verb Form – Style #3

Incorrect Verb Form

I had a count of 127 errors in Style. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence .
3. Incorrect Spacing .
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation .
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

Incorrect verb form.

I’m not going to explain this clearly on my own, this is directly from Grammarly’s explanation:

“The subjunctive mood is the verb form used when expressing a wish, demand, suggestion, or making a statement that is contrary to fact. Certain verbs (such as advise, ask, command, desire, insist, propose, recommend, suggest, and urge) and certain adjectives (such as crucial, desirable, essential, important, and vital) signal the subjunctive mood.
In most cases, the subjunctive form is the bare (root) form of the verb. Is and are become be. Runs will become run. In the past tense, was becomes were.”

This is one small mistake I make that is most often found in the dialogue. If my character has poor grammar or uses a lot of jargon or slang I might leave it in. However, this character is educated so the assumption is that she would use proper grammar. Why did I make this mistake? Probably because it’s common for people to say was instead of were.

verb1Grammarly was kind enough to tell me what the correction is with the was → were option. All I have to do is click on the green and it changes it automatically for me. Easy peasy.

“If I were going to ruin your laptop doing this I wouldn’t have used it.”

This next one is in the narrative so I would fix it for certain. The narrative is not the place for slang, jargon, or local grammar quirks.

It was unnerving, even if he weren’t a cop it would make me nervous.

In this situation, I missed these two on my own proofreading. They were the only two incorrect verb forms in my book. Errors like these are easy to pass over because I wrote them and they don’t stand out to me. Have I mentioned I’m not a professional editor?

My advice about incorrect verb form:

Have someone else proofread or use a program specific for grammar. I’m not paid by Grammarly to talk about the program, it’s the one I researched, and I tried and loved the free version before paying for it. Whatever program you use or if you hire a professional, it or they should catch these camouflaged errors.


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Creative Dialogue Tags

Dialogue is my favorite part of writing. Previously I’ve talked a lot about dialogue tags and how the world has a conflicting view on how they should and should not be used.

He said, she said tags are the most common and should be used more than ‘creative tags’ but even he said she said should probably be used sparingly or only when necessary. Thus creative ones even less so. Why?  because our brains are trained to skip ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ it’s automatic, we don’t even think about it. And while the occasional creative tag is warranted too much slows the reader down and it becomes noticeable.

I generally use a mix of everything but primarily rely on conversation flow (Sans tags) or action tags. Action tags give the reader a clear vision of what the character is doing before or after what they said.

Some examples of creative dialogue tags:  (these come after he, she or the name of the character)



You get the idea. Now here are some things spoken words or dialogue cannot do. I see these words on lists and in text and personally I try to make them action tags not dialogue tags or combine them.


Yes, there are instances when one may growl out their words or cried while speaking but plopping it at the end will remove the emotion or tone from the sentence and come across as awkward. Simply saying ‘She growled’ after the dialogue might not read to others as it did you me in my head.

Example time.

“I don’t feel well.” Amber murmured.

Not terrible but not great either. This sentence has more potential than this.

Amber rubbed her stomach and murmured. “I don’t feel well.”

or if she’s moaning the words…

Amber rubbed her stomach. “I don’t feel well.” She murmured.

While not good for keeping the word count down, sometimes it’s more important to relay the message properly than to over simplify it. Apparently, the word sighed is a big one that gets used too much. While yes people do sometimes sigh while speaking it might read better if it’s not so lonesome at the end of the sentence.

“Go home then.” Scott sighed.

I’m trying to convey frustration and while he might sigh the word go and maybe home, it may also look like he sighed after the fact. Reader interpenetration.

Scott sighed. “Go home then.”

Scott absently looked up to the ceiling. “Go home then.” He said with a sigh.

In these situations when I really, really, really want to convey tone in dialogue I read it out loud a few times to make sure what I’m saying sounds like what I’ve actually written. The best way is to have someone else read it aloud to you.

I don’t mind ‘said’ but I definitely try to use them sparingly or appropriately. Every dialogue sentence does not need them.

“I don’t feel well” Amber murmured.
“Go home then,” Scott said.
Amber rubbed her stomach, opened her desk drawer and pulled out the bag of herbal tea Scott brought her as part of a gift. A week after he barged in on her at her apartment and scared her he gave her a gift basket of things to help with the morning sickness she still had bouts of. 
“I have too much work to do. I’ll just go make some tea and see if it helps.” Amber said.
“Good idea,” Scott said.
“I’ll be back in a minute. Do you want anything?” Amber asked.
“No thanks. You go take care of yourself.” Scott answered.
Amber grabbed her mug and with the tea in hand, she went to the staff room. Scott watched her leave barely containing the smile that did not match the malice in his eyes.

For me it’s too elementary with all that ‘said’ going on. I feel like the dialogue is separated from the action too. When I read I find it tedious I like to mix them.

Amber rubbed her stomach and murmured. “I don’t feel well.”
Scott absently looked up to the ceiling. “Go home then.” 
“I have too much work to do. I’ll just go make some tea and see if it helps.”
Scott watched her open her desk drawer and take out the bag of herbal tea.
“Good idea.” 
A week after he barged in on her at her apartment and scared her he brought her a gift basket of things to help with the morning sickness she still had bouts of. 
Amber grabbed her mug. “I’ll be back in a minute. Do you want anything?” 
“No thanks. You go take care of yourself.”
With the tea and mug in hand, she went to the staff room. Scott watched her leave barely containing the smile that did not match the malice in his eyes.

Sometimes when I’m rushing I’ll plop out dialogue in the, he said she said constantly way. Then I’ll go back and dress it up better in editing. While I love a good creative dialogue tag It’s a balanced blend of the classic ‘he said’ action tags, no tags and creative dialogue tags that will help a story flow. “IMO of course.” She said and winked.

My advice about creative dialogue tags.
Whether the person is murmuring, sighing or crying. Make it clear if it’s before, during or after the spoken words. Read out loud or have someone else read it to you. It helps.


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Tag! You’re it.

Show and tell

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Lost in Μετάφραση

Writing alternate languages within a story can be tricky for many reasons. One, I never assume the reader knows what is being said and two, I never assume that the reader will bother to look it up and translate it.

Therefore if I use alternate languages in dialogue that I myself am not fluent in, (And I do) I follow these simple rules I set up for myself.

– I have another character translate
– I have narration translate (This is awkward to write and read IMO because it still
leaves the characters not knowing what was said)
– I have the speaker translate after speaking their native tongue
– I never translate and have someone comment on the rudeness of the speaker OR I
leave it mysterious if it fits into the scene
– I make sure body language, expression and action translate for me (This one is fun
and challenging to do)
– If both or all characters in the scene speak… say Spanish I might narrate that they
are speaking Spanish, put the dialogue in English and change the font to italic.

There are points in my books where a character who doesn’t or won’t speak English. There is always a purpose for it story wise and for my purposes it’s necessary for character development.

There are plenty of online translation tools out there, but how accurate are they? For fun if you go to one of them type in a simple sentence. Translate to another language then another and another then back to English and sometimes what you get is hilarious or illegible… so sometimes yes and sometimes no for accuracy.

(This example has not been edited/proofed by anyone who speaks/reads/writes Italian)

Valery rolled her eyes at Anne’s juicy work gossip. “I think you should quit and find a better job. That place is toxic.”
“Ogni sciocco vuole dare consigli.” Tony said under his breath reaching for his coffee. 
“Seriously?” Valery glared at Anne’s boyfriend.
“He said Every fool wants to give advice.” Anne elbowed Tony. “Don’t be rude.”
“Since when do you speak Italian?” Valery looked across the small diner table at Anne.
“Since I’ve been teaching her. Want to learn?” Tony said with a sly grin. “Sei bella e arroganteo.”
Valery crossed her arms. “And what pray-tel does that mean?”
Tony just smiled and sipped his coffee. 
Anne shook her head and chuckled, “He thinks your beautiful and arrogant.”
Valery grinned. “Spot on Tony.”

I do have french, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin in my stories. For now I’ve used multiple translation services to make sure they say what I want them to. Before I finish editing will fully intend on having someone who reads, writes and speaks those languages proofread them for me.

My advice about foreign language in writing.
Be careful and seek assistance if using a language you are not fluent in, otherwise what you meant to say could be lost in Lost in Μετάφραση (Lost in translation) 


Other posts about dialogue


Conversing is easy…not!

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Bibbity Blogity Boo

There is magic in creation, a special feeling of euphoria that drives me to write. I love reading and the realization that I am creating something that will be read by others is empowering.

I started this blog to strengthen my writers platform, but it has given me so much more. New friends, a place to enjoy others’ writing and stories, feedback and encouragement and most of all learning. As I write my posts I research too. Sometimes when I research I’m inspired to write a post. Whichever it may be I’m learning as I go. My writing/editing/revising skills are improving and I find myself working harder. However it doesn’t feel like work.

It’s a non stop little cycle of learning as I blog and blogging as I learn. I stretch my writing legs and have tried new things. New perspectives, techniques and tricks. There is no magic wand to take my rough draft and poof it to perfection. I don’t have a literary fairy godmother and I don’t have a dashing prince to swoop in and slay the filter words and typos for me.

So instead of writing this:

They stopped kissing very suddenly and each backed up awkwardly and embarrassed. “We should talk about what just happened and what that could possibly mean.” Amber said feeling suddenly shy about kissing Dale so very passionately. She felt very attracted to him and after his very sweet romantic words. Like crazy, she wanted to desperately believe that he was telling the truth about being in love with her. 
“Yes Amber I absolutely agree completely to that, we do indeed need to discuss what transpired between the two of us just now. ” Dale said nodding his head very vigorously with agreement. “Do you to understand that I meant every single word that I said to you a moment before we kissed?”
Dale put his hand on her cheek. Amber closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again. She looked into his eyes before she gave him a response.
“Dale I really do have feelings for you and I very much enjoyed kissing you. I would ask that you be understanding and very patient with me.”
“I can indeed be patient with you Amber.” He said with a delighted pleasant smile.

I now know about filter words, show vs. tell, interjections, emotion tags vs dialog tags vs action tags, ing-ing and the ly’s that stunt creativity. I now know about writing realism with words commonly used in real life. I know to ditch the tired pompous ones that only belong in period or historical books and the ones that are literally just filler. I also know to look for redundancies and my kryptonite words such as; really, that and very. Since during my first draft I spent a lot of time revising to reduce word count these skills proved invaluable.

Now I would write it like this:

Amber broke the passionate kiss. “We should talk.” Her cheeks flushed and she looked down at her hands. 
“Yeah we should.” Dale nodded and put his hand on her cheek brushing his thumb across a dried tear streak. “I meant what I said you know.”
She closed her eyes a moment before looking into his. “I know, and I am trying, I…” She licked her lips. “I like you Dale. Can you be patient with me?”
His lips curled up slightly. “Yes Amber.” He kissed her forehead. “I can.”

Wow, I’ve come a long way from blabbity writing with tired, filter and redundant words. I’m still wordy when I write, but so much less so than I was when I started this blog. And now I know how to fix my wordiness. I’m no longer tempted to lazy writing and dig in to make my writing the best it can be. By following the rules I’ve learned and shared throughout my blog I was able to revise and rewrite properly. As if by ‘magic’ I removed a whopping 183 necessary words. I’ll say ‘wow’ again. Big improvement and I still have lot’s to learn and therefore lot’s to share.

My advice about being open to learning.
You will get nowhere fast with pride and ego as your best friends. Take a moment to learn from others, whether they are better or worse than you are or think you are. Nobody is perfect and there is always room for improvement.


Other posts that are related

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Are you inging too?

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

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