bringing your verbs, and story, to life
I homeschool my daughter, and we don’t follow a curriculum, but she loves to ‘play’ school, so I gave her some texts to work from. I grinned as she asked for direction on one particular page of the English book. It was about choosing appropriate words. Specifically verbs.
The book explained that verbs like run and went don’t tell us much. Ha, yes, I’ve discussed this before. But I thought it was humorous that many adult writers don’t get this, yet it’s being taught on a second and third grade level (at least in the texts I have on hand).
Make your verbs come alive. Some common culprits are walk, run, went, and look. Let’s use went and look.
She went into the house.
She stomped into the house.
She sneaked into the house.
She pranced into the house.
She sidled into the house.
She dashed into the house.
He looked at the stranger.
He peeked at the stranger.
He squinted at the stranger.
He glared at the stranger.
He stared at the stranger.
He gawked at the stranger.
Get the idea? Go over your story and look for how many times you use run, walk, went, look. Then find more descriptive or active verbs to replace them. It will make your story come alive!
originally published in The Sword Review 2006-06-27