Friday, October 15, 2010

Understanding Present Tense State of Being Verbs In Publishing

Let's talk grammar for a second today. No, I don't want to dangle any participles out there for you, I want to talk about verbs. More specifically, I want to examine the use of present tense state of being verbs.

Now, for a brief refresher, state of being verbs are not action verbs. These verbs designate a state of existence for the subject in the sentence (is, are was, were, and so forth). Present tense is... obviously about the hear and now.

I was thinking about this when it comes to the idea of submissions. No, I'm not talking about how the author uses the grammar in their queries, synopses, or manuscripts, I am talking about what these writers are saying to themself as they send out these queries. In my humble opinion, it is the lack of those present tense state of being verbs in their vocabulary that is leading to the lack of success for that writer. Huh?

Let me explain it this way...

I hear writers make comments such as:

"I'm hoping that Agent X will like this."
"I think this story is ready to go."
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Editor J will want to read more."
"I'm really excited you're reading this Agent Z and I hope you want more."

Do you see a trend here? In all of these cases the writer is not looking at the here and now and is really just throwing darts out there. In each of these cases, these authors are missing that present tense state of being verb. It is this verb that really does prove to the professionals the person is ready.

Try these on for size:

"This story IS what Agent X is looking for."
"My story IS ready to go."

While success in this business does require a talent for writing well, it also requires that positive attitude we see in those state of being verbs. You can't just say the words, you have to mean the words.

Here's another thing to remember:

“Do or do not... there is no try.” - YODA


  1. The Yoda quote/reference really sums this up nicely. I do think you're right, too.

    It's like my basketball coach used to tell us about free throws: "You have to see the ball going through the hoop before you take the shot."

    There is a little bit of Zen to positive thinking, or positive knowing, rather.

  2. I remember an entire lecture in college on "acting creates doing." We were encouraged to take the opposite position on some topic intentionally for a week and see how we felt afterward. I must say this can begin a new cycle. Acting confident can lead to confidence. No joke. Sadly, I still love fried food. The experiment only works on realistic changes. I'm officially confident, but who doesn't like friend foods?