On another board, I have been involved in an ongoing discussion about about a copy-editor I used. Many side issues were generated, some by people who claim to have read my book even though it has been unpublished for several months while going though reviews by two copy editors and a fellow author. One person stated the following:

"Another flaw in the book is the constant use of "was" which should never be used unless absolutely necessary, because it makes the action less immediate and is in the tell rather than show category. In other words it screams amateur."

I'd like to know if this comment is at all valid. Also, are there other words that should be avoided or at least used minimally.

I discovered that, in the book being reviewed the word 'was' appears 952 times in a 95,000 word total - a bit more than 1%. By contrast 'the' is used 8,832 times (9% of total); 'it' is used 2,952 times (3% of total); 'and' is used 2,880 times (3% of total)

Obviously, I can go through the story and attempt to eliminate the egregious 'was' as much as possible, but is this really necessary?

Are there other words that scream amateur?