editing / writers tips / writing

Writer’s Tip #40: Use Began and Started Sparingly

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Use ‘began’ and ‘started’ sparingly

It’s tempting to say ‘She began to laugh’ or He started to walk down the road’. Just say ‘She laughed’ and ‘He walked down the road’. You probably aren’t chronicling the exact moment she started to laugh or he began walking down the road. The reader doesn’t need that much detail. Just include the important stuff–the actions that move the story forward.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is  editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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8 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #40: Use Began and Started Sparingly

  1. With a grain of salt here. Everything starts somewhere. She might start to snicker before it evolved into a full blown laugh, but for the most part you are very right.


    • It’s a flaw of writers–we want top be precise. Our character ‘started’ and then something weird happened. But, it only confuses the reader. Leave out ‘started’ and the reader is actually more involved.

      Interesting. I know if first hand, too–and still, it drifts into my draft copies.


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