One of the best ways to strengthen your writing can be found in verb choices. Consider the difference in the following sentences:
-The librarian is strict.
-The prune-faced, white-haired, hunched librarian guards library books as though they were all first-editions in her private collection.
Not only have descriptive words been added, but the sentence paints a picture for your reader. Notice the verb choice. In a writing workshop I attended at the University of Montana, author Bill deBuys referred to all forms of the word be (is, am, are, was, were, be, been, being) as worthless, in that they give nothing to your reader. These words convey no meaning, no picture, no frame of reference other than existence. (Thank you, Bill!)
Look at something you’ve written recently, something you may have done a first edit on. Take a short paragraph and examine your verbs. (Save each of your drafts! More on that in another post…) Rewrite the sentence(s) using strong verb choices. You may need to rearrange a sentence. You may need to add to the sentence (as in the example above) to really make your words come alive for your reader.
Go back and compare the two pieces. If possible, read them aloud. You should hear how the writing comes alive and vibrant, painting a picture of the character or action in the scene.
Leave a comment about how this exercise worked for you.
Happy writing – and editing…
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