Action VERBS! Guest Blogger, Elaine Hirsch Returns


Guest Blogger, Elaine Hirsch returns with a post about verbs and the potential they possess for injecting action and vitality into our writing. Our work with developing writers should place verbs in a prominent position. They are the muscles of our writing- the heavy lifters, and as Elaine writes, verbs ‘incite all your words to dance and sing together instead of just standing in incoherent, silent groups.More power to verbs!

I’m certain you’ll gain renewed appreciation for the great work action verbs perform when you read Elaine’s post:

Verbs describe some kind of action, but some verbs are more active than others. Your writing leaps from commonplace to persuasive and engaging just by changing the types of verbs you use. Whether you're writing fiction, a master's degree dissertation, or copy for advertisements, active verbs make readers want more. They switch on readers' imaginative vision and help them truly feel the meaning of your words.

“The verb is the heartthrob of the sentence,” as Karen Gordon writes in The Transitive Vampire. “Without a verb, a group of words can never hope to be anything more than a fragment, a hopelessly incomplete sentence, a eunuch or dummy of a grammatical expression.” What's more, selection of active and more interesting verbs can make the difference between lively writing and words that merely shamble along.



Using plain verbs like “walk” when you could use something like “amble” can condemn your writing to be ordinary and unconvincing. Readers want to be hooked from the first sentence. They want their imaginations thrust in the middle of the action. Active verbs help readers understand what you’re trying to convey, and stay engaged in your writing.

Active verbs also help you keep your writing concise. The shorter your sentences, the easier they are for readers to understand. While it's not a good idea to have short, choppy sentences throughout your writing, using active verbs to reduce the number of words readers must comprehend in your writing makes a positive difference.

Verbs like “elicit,” “conducted,” and “modified” help readers quickly grasp the full meaning of your words. Active verbs capture the subtle connotative meanings more commonplace verbs can't reach. Using active verbs in your business writing is especially important to convince and persuade readers. Concise writing in business is also highly valued because it takes less time to process and understand.

Active verbs give readers more powerful mental images and help them more easily understand your meaning. Words that do more than just state what happened but also convey the emotional tenor or some other level of nuance associated with the event are vital to good writing. Without them, your writing just does the bare minimum of communicating basic meaning.

With active verbs, you can reduce the number of words it takes to say something. You also express deeper and fuller meaning. Since verbs connect words to form complete ideas, your writing should be full of verbs to incite all your words to dance and sing together instead of just standing in incoherent, silent groups. Active verbs are the key to starting the music and getting the words’ feet tapping.

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