September 1, 2011


I love how this reminds me of an Ipod poster.
There are lots of ways to strengthen a sentence. Adding sharper details, changing the punctuation, reordering the structure... I like to go for the simple approach: modifying the verb.

Using common verbs lends the manuscript to sound a little bland. Use robust verbs to help the reader feel more like a participant in the scene.

Walked – ambled, sauntered, lumber, strolled, shuffled, staggered, etc.
Ran –jogged, skittered,  hurried, dashed, galloped, loped, etc.
Cry – whimpered, sobbed, sniveled, bawled, wailed, blubbered, howled, etc.

Using the Edit>Find tool search the novel for the following words, and replace them with something stronger, or rewrite the sentence to omit the word.

Was/were- This is one of the weakest verbs at your disposal.

She was rather plump.
Her fully fleshed stomach and bust swayed each time she moved.

Seemed- This is a non-committal verb. It lets you sit on the fence without picking a side. I try to only use it when I need to avoid a POV violation.  

He seemed old for his age. 
He left no impression of innocence and irresponsibility characteristic of boys his age. 

Began/Started- These are also  non-committal verbs. 

She started to cross the room.
She crossed the room. *
*Unless, she started to cross the room and then the floor falls out before she reaches the other side.

Knew- The POV implies that the character already knows .
 She knew he hated her. 
 He hated her.


  1. this is a great post! I always do a find for was and were while editing. They always sneak in

  2. "Was" is my nemesis. :/

    Awesome post!

  3. Someone gave me a list of NO-NO's (was, blah, blah, blah)... in return I've taken my list of no-no's and picked through my manuscript to allow myself more time to be creative!!!

    Verbs can be so fun as long as you allow them to be!

    Your blog is fabulous - I'm digging the background! I do hope you'll stop in and say hello! I love meeting new blog buddies!

  4. Wonderful list. Search and replace is a brilliant technological achievement.

  5. Thanks for the advice on these blasted things. Always in need of a fresh reminder!