Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Do you use strong action verbs in your writing? Do you mix it up and use less common verbs? A couple of ideas I've tried recently during revisions:

1. (If you're writing YA) Print out a list of vocabulary words that your target readers would be using in school. These vocabulary lists are a great resource for interesting verbs.

2. Create a word bank. Think about the theme of your manuscript and come up with as many words related to your theme as possible. Use a thesaurus and dictionary to expand your word bank.

Switching boring everyday verbs to stronger action verbs adds dimension and description to your story.

For example:

Using TRUDGED is more descriptive than using WALKED.

Happy writing!



  1. Excellent suggestions, Margo. Verbs are the engine which propel the story forward.

    Or should I say "move"? Or "drive"? Or "motate?"


  2. Absolutely true. I love digging through my brain for better verbs. But, as with all things, too much of a good thing is bad for you. Avoid using really obscure words or using every available verb for the same action. Great post.

  3. I agree it's good to use strong verbs, but I think adding too many unusual ones can make your writing seem contrived, especially if it's for a YA audience.

  4. I fear if I wrote YA, I'd have to spend a year hanging out behind the high school, collecting words. They always seem to have a totally different vocabulary. Or same words, different meanings.

  5. This concept was drilled into my head as a Senior in high school, and I have never forgotten it.

  6. Verbs! Rah for strong verbs. Adverbs weaken them. Great idea to use a thesaurus; I do that a lot. It's easy with the thesaurus that comes with Word. If I don't find the word I want, it usually jogs my memory into a better word.

  7. I try to use strong verbs as much as possible when I'm writing my novel:)

  8. The right verb and the visual to go with it makes all the difference in the world. I like the word trudged. :)

    Good quick tip!

  9. Hi Margo - thanks! Great tips. I agree - selecting the right verb is key. It captures the essence of the entire sentence.

  10. Strong verbs are so key! Thanks for the good insights.

  11. Thank you for the marvelous tips!! Visiting from the A-Z and a new follower. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff. :D


  12. I like this idea. How does one find these verb lists?