Make Your Verbs Earn their Keep

by Al Kalar

Good writers get all they can out of a verb.

For instance, when a character moves from one place to another in a scene, he doesn’t “move across the room”. He “plunges”, “saunters”, “minces”, “charges”, “slinks”, etc. across the room.

Let’s look at an example:

Jim moved over to Henry and hit him in the face.


Jim charged Henry and smashed a fist into his face.

So, what happened to Henry?

Henry fell to the floor. His nose was bleeding.

[Wake me when it’s over]

Henry crashed to the floor, blood flowing from his mangled nose.

Remember to review your verbs when you edit your own work. Not just action verbs, but any verb. Victims aren’t afraid, they “quake”; their knees shake, their stomachs churn, and their bowls threaten to disgrace them.

Your thesaurus (often built into your word processor) can be a good friend, but your mind and a command of a wide range of verbs are your main weapons.


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