Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Writing Craft: Power Verbs

Verbs can be a lot of fun. Don’t get caught in a rut! Step out of that box! March to the beat of a different drummer! 
You like my clichés? Don’t use them. They are annoying and trite.  If you’re reading this blog, you should be beyond such drivel!  But I digress… back to the verbs.

When I first started writing, I was poor at grammar. Still am, but I created an Idiot List to help me remember what I needed to know.  If you aren’t sure about something, check on line. A wealth of information is available if you will just avail yourself of it! <tongue in cheek>

I pulled up an excel document and labeled it Power Verbs. 

·       As I researched and read, when I came across a new verb that caught my attention I put it in the list.  The advantage of excel is that you can make any kind of list you like and sort it however you like.  Great for alphabetizing lists.

·       I loosely categorized them by columns with the following headings: 

speaking         movement       sounds            food/drink

thinking          looking(vision)           walking           non-moving

Yeah, I know… some are kinda vague, but hey, when I started this I was kinda vague, too!

See what kind of emotions the following speaking words evoke:

  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha said.
  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha whined.
  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha yelped.
  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha squawked.
  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha snarled.
  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha drawled.
  • “Why did you do that?” Samantha sputtered.
By using verbs that are more descriptive, you can affect your readers’ emotions.  Construct your sentences to draw your audience into your character’s world.  What is happening? What kinds of emotions are they feeling?  Your reader wants that experience, too.

Here are some examples of words from my looking (vision) column. 

  • Hector saw the picture.
  • Hector studied the picture.
  • Hector gazed at the picture.
  • Hector regarded the picture.
  • Hector scowled at the picture.
Now consider these options:

  • Hector’s eyes bulged when he saw the picture.
  • Hector squinted at the picture.
  • Hector studiously ignored the picture.
  • Hector furtively glanced at the picture.
Hector is standing here and looking at a picture.  Power verbs completely change his emotion and attitude.  They paint a verbal picture that conveys a strong emotion to the reader.

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