Attack with potent verbs!

On February 6th, I started writing something. Yesterday, while clearing out old emails, I found about a page-and-a-half of the story. Is it possible to impress oneself? Because I was impressed. Maybe it was because this specific piece of writing was different. Usually, I write in past-tense. That’s my default. This story, however, was written in present-tense. It feels fresh reading it, like the writing part of me is awakening from a deep sleep.

The story doesn’t continue to be great. I remember the only reason I kept writing it was because if I stopped, I’d basically be admitting to myself that I was depressed, and I didn’t really want to do that. Consequently, the story became a soupy mess of goop. I think I stopped writing it sometime in March.

Guess what? Seven months later, I’m continuing the story. It shows a lot of potential, so long as I delete everything beyond the first page-and-a-half. The idea has sparked in my mind again, lighting the bright fire of inspiration that lies within me.

While continuing the story, I’ve made a brilliant discovery. Descriptions and good adjectives are very important to good writing, but so many people forget another crucial part of this–the verb. Especially in present-tense stories, where the focus is action, good verbs are needed to keep the reader involved. Oftentimes, verbs can give descriptions that are just as good as adjectives. For example…

The mother squeezes into the nearest space on the bench, bouncing a child on each knee. The young man, whose blonde head just barely peeks over the top of his seat, twists around and faces me. I know him when I see his eyes—bluish green, almost a turquoise color.

What if I had written it like this?

The mother sits in the nearest space on the bench, putting a child on each knee. The young man, whose blonde head is only a little visible over the top of his seat, turns around and faces me. I know him when I see his eyes—bluish green, almost a turquoise color.

It’s kind of blah, right? There’s nothing that grabs you there. I used weak verbs like ‘sit’, ‘turn’, and ‘put,’ whereas in the other sample I used stronger verbs like ‘squeeze’, ‘bounce’, ‘peek’, and ‘twist.’ Doesn’t it give you a clearer image?

Imagine verbs as weapons. If you’re in battle, are you going to attack with nail-clippers and safety pins like ‘says’ or ‘does?’ No! You want to have a strong, powerful effect on the reader, so you’re going to use heavy maces and swords like ‘sniffs’ and ‘croaks.’

So, attack with potent verbs! Go now, march!

 

 

 

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