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Weak Verbs

Sometimes you just need a simple verb: run, walk, sit, stand. Simple verbs are the workhorses of your prose. Use them when the action doesn't matter much.

Action verbs move your story forward and add definition to the movement.

It may seem arty to have your characters sit, smoke, drink coffee and chat. Please, I beg of you, don't make it the entire chapter. Their conversation should be tense and informative too.

Weak or simplistic verbs convey action but do not add further information. A verb that you had to modify with an adverb isn't a strong verb.

Weak: Sally ran fast.

Stronger: Sally sprinted.

Weak: Dick walked quietly into the room.

Stronger: Dick tiptoed into the room.

Weak: Jane hit the ball hard with the bat.

Stronger: Jane slammed the ball with the bat.

Sitting, standing, running, jumping, sighing, weeping, and laughing are all fine when used moderately. 

Finding a fresh way to say them or using a greater variety of verbs makes the story richer.

As a revision layer, I take a good hard look at all of my verb choices. Yes, it is tedious. The good news is, the more you repeat this exercise, the better you become at choosing verbs naturally. You recognize a weak verb when you type one.

I have a spreadsheet of basic verbs and replacements for them that I add to constantly. You can find lists of verbs on the internet. Here are a few to get you started.

Scroll through your document or underline common verbs in your printed draft and see how many you can change into something stronger.

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