Enliven your writing with Verbs

During my homeschooling days, I used to listen to a grammar memory song. One of the lyrics is permanently stuck in my head so that it plays every time I hear the word “verb.” It goes like this “I’m a verb, verb, verb, I’m an action word, so put me where the action is ‘cause I’m an action word.”

I know, kind of cheezy, but helpful to middle schoolers trying to remember the parts of speech; or in this case, the parts of writing.

Why are verbs so important? Simply put, the right verb can transform a mediocre sentence into a marvelous sentence. (Example: Instead of the word “transform,” I could have used its less inspiring cousin “change,” but that would have been… less inspiring. See how easy this is?)

Here’s a quick comparison of how this works in the writing world.

  1. She walked up to him and said “Where have you been?”
  2. She stomped up to him and said “Where have you been?”
  3. She sidled up to him and said “Where have you been?”

Notice that I only changed one word, yet each sentence carries a different feel. Sentence one sounds bland. Sentence two gives us the impression that she (whoever she is) is angry with him (whoever he is). Sentence three tells us that she may be flirting with him.

All by altering a single verb. (See? I could have used the verb “changing” instead of “altering,” but that wouldn’t have been as punchy.)

Try it! I bet you’ll like it.

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