Verbs: The workhorse of story


Precise verbs drive story. First off, action verbs create much richer meaning and appeal to senses better than linking verbs do. Instead of “The cat was relaxed,” a better choice is “The cat lounged on the couch.” (That example was inspired by Sunny, who right now, is “lounging” next to me.) However, just using action verbs is not enough. Verbs with “narrow” meaning always surpass words with “wide” meaning. “Walk” should be replaced with “saunter,” “stroll,” “stagger,” “stomp,” or “strut” (like the alliteration?) Finally, never rely on adverbs to carry the load. “Dart” is always preferable to “run quickly.”

Back to "Great Storytelling"