This Quick Tip Instantly Improves Your Writing

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on August 10, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Every time I go through an author’s manuscript, I find words or phrases that don’t always lend themselves to making the author sound eloquent. To put it a different way: Too much wordiness in a sentence can make an author sound amateurish.

As a book editor, one of my primary goals is to make authors look good. (And if I do say so myself, I’m pretty darn good at what I do! Several of my author clients have gone on to have multiple bestsellers in their writing career.) In order to help my author clients (and perhaps those of you who aren’t my client yet!), I’d like to share one of my trade secrets with you.

If you start a sentence with “There is” (or some variation, including “There are,” “There was,” or “There were” ), take it out! In most cases, the “There is” can be removed without disrupting the meaning of your sentence. This will immediately streamline your writing. Take a look at this example . . .

There is a cat that is on the fence.” –> “A cat is on the fence.”

Using “There is” to introduce something is redundant—instead, just go ahead and say it!

Understand? Okay, moving on . . .  

To take your writing to the next level, get rid of “There is” (or its variation), and instead, use an active, exciting verb to show the action:

There were some storm clouds in the distance.” –> “Storm clouds rumbled in the distance.”

"There was a path that led through the forest." –> "[Character] followed the path through the forest."


When you start a sentence with “There is,” you might also include the relative pronoun “that” to refer to the thing already mentioned (the cat, in the first example). To streamline your text and make your sentence instantly more polished, cut out “that.”

“There is…” + “…that…” –> delete both

There is a cat that is on the fence.” –> “A cat is on the fence.”

What to Do with This Information

Now that you know this quick trick to streamline your writing, open up your manuscript file and use the Find + Replace function to locate all instances of "There is," "There are," "There was," and "There were" in your document—you might be surprised how many you find! Replace as many as you can (remember: don't forget to also remove "that" where possible!). Once you've done all you can, send the manuscript to your editor!

Thanks for making my job a little easier! :D

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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.

Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.

Categories: writing

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