But not just any old verb. Only so-called “strong” or “action” verbs propel, fire, and glide to accomplish what writers want and readers need. Verbs like “was” or “have,” though essential to communication, electrify writing no more than vague nouns, useless adverbs, or redundant adjectives.
Tip: Weak verbs produce weak sentences—which produce weak novels.
In “Verbs: Spice Up Your Writing with Verbs that Rock,” Dave Bricker remarks:
If your writing was an electric guitar, your verbs would be the volume, tone, and distortion controls that shape the music of your sentences.
Johnson’s “Writing Style: Use Good Words, Not Bad Ones” suggests:
Strengthen your verbs by making them as specific as possible. Eat, for example, could also be nibble, devour and gobble, depending on what you want to convey. Likewise, sit could be slouch, spread out or recline.
strong verbs add action, vitality, color, and zest. So, the “secret” to writing with gusto is to choose stronger verbs. — “99 Strong Verbs to Make Your Content Pop, Fizz and Sparkle”
Forget about adjectives -- they're as floppy as a gaggle of 98-lb weaklings. Verbs, on the other hand, are the muscle-men and women of the beach. After all, if your goal is to move readers (either literally or metaphorically), doesn't it make sense to focus on the ACTion words in your writing?— Daphne Gray-Grant, “Starve an Adjective, Feed a Verb”
Committed to verbs? Here’s how to work out with them so they work for you.
~ Expand your working verb vocabulary.
In conversation, we use the same verbs over and over: “Come here,” “Bring the popcorn,” ”Let the dog out.” The problem arises when the fiction writer accesses that same limited number of pedestrian verbs. Start collecting intriguing verbs. Check the many online action verb lists.
Mull so readers needn’t. Not “Working through the many disagreements about how to spend money made their marriage that much stronger.” Instead? “Discussing money, instead of quarreling about it, strengthened their marriage.” Invest time in choosing weight-bearing verbs. The more you ponder and practice, then the easier this gets.
~ Exercise and apply.
Chase different—and better—verbs, even when not actively writing. Notice great or ghastly verbs in everything you read and hear. Yes—everything.
You can do it.