It bugs me sometimes when I feel like a hypocrit.
Had one of those moments this morning. I'm reading a best-selling book from a best-selling series by a best-selling author. Love the book, love the author, love the series - but it's FULL of passive verbs. Everything is was and were. Telling, telling, telling.
When I edit, I spend a lot of time on passive verbs. Okay, wait a minute - Ursula does. She tends to highlight the was/weres and was/ings in manuscripts and suggest authors get rid of as many as possible. She redlines passive usage with a vengeance.
And then she picks up a book that is lauded by critics and finds all the things she just spent two weeks trying to weed out of someone else's ms.
Should the authors be miffed about this?
Well, I couldn't blame them if they were. It's hard to deal with the - If she can do it, why can't I? syndrome. But we've all been told this time and time again.
Just because Nora Roberts head pops doesn't mean we can get away with it. Just because e. e. cummings didn't use capital letters blah blah blah.
Is it fair?
No. But it's the way it is. Ursula feels bad about it, but she's going to continue highlighting those passive verbs and changing 'he was watching' to 'he watched' wherever she finds it. She's going to continue her battle against ever-shifting POV, telling vs. showing and when someday an author she'd edited gets to the NY Times Bestseller List and looks back and says, 'Damn that Ursula, she wouldn't let me do all the things I wanted to do!' She will sit back and sigh, 'My work here is done.'