M is for Make: Better Verbs Make Better Writing

Meme created by Erin Penn

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know about copulas – the “to be” verbs which are harbingers of passive writing. Being a good writer’s conference, the topic came up a couple times at SAGA (sagaconference.com). Michael Mammy captured its essence during the afternoon presentation on Pacing and Structure with “Better Verbs Make Better Writing.”

He also said “More problems, more better.” Which is the essence of Give Your Characters Trouble, but not every piece of advice is a gem, or meme-worthy.

Back to BVMBW: verbing makes better writing because the verbs drive the action. Don’t be “run fast” – instead “dashed” or “rushed”. Don’t go all “spoke softly” but “purred” or “mumbled”.

That being said, don’t spend the First Draft figuring out the perfect word. That is for Draft Three. Draft Two is getting all the scenes to actually flow together, adding and subtracting or just moving large swaths of the manuscript. Once you know what is actually happening, verbs can be polished.

Two fixes are (1) do a search on “was” and “were” for the entire manuscript and cut that number by a third. (2) every paragraph switch out one verb/adverb for something stronger or more specific.

Below is another meme I made a while back. Write with Style. Because, you know, better writing is just sexy.

Write with Style

Meme created by Erin Penn

2 thoughts to “M is for Make: Better Verbs Make Better Writing”

Comments are closed.