Even though Shakespeare wrote "to be or not to be,"
discover active verbs to animate your ideas. Verb variety engages your reader. Choreograph sentences. Make verbs dance and tumble.
It feels natural to write sentences with is, am, was, and were, and contractions such as that’s or there’s. On a subconscious level, we move into the “to be” groove.
Just because a favorite writer does it, you don’t need to.
Make friends with verbs and play.
Consider verbs the work horses of your sentences. These power ponies add description, details, and action. If you alter the structure of the sentence, you can eliminate the use of the ‘to be’ verb.”
To practice, return guilty sentences to: subject, verb, and object. At first the alteration in sentence structure will provoke frustration. Style becomes altered as a result of eliminating the “to be” verb. When you realize new possibilities, your attitude will change.
Relent and deconstruct sentences. Begin to realize that verb awareness permits also a selection of stronger subjects with fewer adverbs and adjectives. Believe in the possibilities of metaphor.
Go through a piece of writing. Circle all “to be” verbs and notice if a habit rather than a choice has developed. With this focus on awareness and the process of verb choice, you learn more than the elimination of the “to be” verb.
The hunt for muscular verbs will help you move away from overusing modifiers. Select subjects with vigor.
When you read work aloud, see the difference in rhythm. With more practice, you will feel less irritation and restriction.