Thursday, September 8, 2016

Just a word about verbs


Verbs

No technical jargon here, just a word about verbs:  active

If you read yesterday's post, prompt, and example, you noticed that one of my writing strategies emphasizes "Strong Verbs," listing many of the verbs from the story.

Strong verbs: dropped, plopped, invited, wrapped, grabbed, gathered, giggled, opened, unwrapped, melted, slumped
What do you notice about those verbs?

The verbs represent action --- doing something.

When writing, use action verbs. Write as if you exist in the moment or a past moment.

Eliminate the dead verbs: is, are, was, were, am, be, gone, look, took, __ing

Rewrite the sentences with action verbs.

Examine the bold words so far in this post: I purposefully chose my sentence structure to include better, and stronger verbs. I did not say, "Write as if you are in the moment..."  I eliminated "are" and added "exist."

In yesterday's post, I wrote,
"Finally it was time for opening presents."  

"was," a dead verb.  This spot begs for dialogue. [I did not write, "This would be a good place for dialogue" -- "would be," represents a dead verb.] I suggest this revision:

"Girls," Melanie's mom called. "Gather in the foyer so Mel can open her presents."
 Put your reader into your story with the action inferred by dialogue -- your reader lives it with you.

Another dead verb use:

It seemed every time we moved from activity to activity...
The solution?  Drop "It seemed."

Every time we moved from activity to activity...

Another dead verb example:

I looked at a long narrow table against one wall. It was filled with chocolate chip cookies, strawberries dipped in chocolate, bowls of M&Ms and peanuts, and on the end, above a lace doily, rice crispy bars.
Transform it to:

I glanced at a long narrow table against one wall, topped with chocolate chip cookies, strawberries dipped in chocolate, bowls of M&Ms and peanuts, and on the end, above a lace doily, rice crispy bars.

Although not an easy task at first,  when you focus and practice the elimination of dead verbs, your writing grows more real and interesting. With practice, your word choice improves and your ability to write with action more easily develops.

One last example. Of the beach picture at the top of the page, how would you write a description?

On the shore was a sand castle.  [dead verb]

or

A sand castle and a blue pail called to me.    [personification]

or

A sand castle waited for further excavation.

or

A child's sand castle waited for the next wave.

Consider the verbs in your writing today. Revise for action! Your readers will love you for it!