Someone in charge of something at the newspaper in Fort Worth, Texas, decided the paper needed a writing coach. Not a fulltime coach, but only for a month, the month coincidentally a summer month when the coach, husband of an editor, was not teaching his literature classes at a local university.
The coach wandered the newsroom, drank coffee, talked with people and read the morning and afternoon editions of the newspaper and held occasional meetings with writers, re-writers and copy editors.
I never asked what re-writers and other copy editors thought about the one session in which the coach informed us of our shortcomings, but “one session” might indicate something.
The coach opened the session with: “We have too many ‘It was’ and ‘There were’ leads.’”
I thought: “Oh. You mean as in ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …’ Too much of that sort of writing.”
I don’t remember anything else the coach said.
In the same vein, last year I read an online piece on “How to Write.” I remember this: Do not start a story with someone waking up.”
I thought, “Oh. You mean as in ‘One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.’”