Not only do you need to know HOW to use powerful verbs, but having a strong verbs list at your disposal is invaluable. We’ll cover both for you.
I used to think writing a book was easy.
And in all honesty, writing has never been the most difficult thing in the world for me but when it comes to writing stories and crafting my writing in a way that compels others and pulls them in deeply, it’s been an uphill battle – before I discovered using strong verbs along with interesting and cool words to use, that is.
She walked into the room, her cape trailing after her.
She charged into the room, her cape billowing after her.
She strutted into the room, her cape flowing after her.
Each of these sentences is extremely similar in what they tell you; a girl with a cape entered a room.
But changing the verbs from “walked” to “charged” to “strutted” alters the way in which she entered.
It tells you the how.
And knowing how an action takes place sets up far more than just the image for the reader. It tells them the mood the character’s in, increases suspense in some cases, and even creates anticipation for what’s to follow.
#2 – More impactful emotions
The goal of your book (and any book, really) is to make your reader feel something. You want to stir emotions in them.
That’s why they read books. That, and they want to be transported to a different world, which strong verbs are also used for.
But one of the main reasons to use strong verbs in writing is to create a more emotional impact.
When you want to create a strong reaction in your reader, no matter what type of reaction that is, you need to use strong verbs.
Here’s an example of creating more anxiety or anticipation in your readers:
My heart was beating so fast I could hear it.
My heart crashed against my ribs, echoing in my head.
Which sentence gives you a clearer picture of the anxiety that must be felt?
The second, right.
Because replacing “was beating fast” with “crashed against my ribs,” shows you just how hard my heart felt. And that’s the difference between a weak verb and a strong one.
It forces you to think more about the visual you’re trying to show the reader instead of just telling them what happened.
Because showing creates a stronger emotional connection between the reader and your book, replacing weak verbs with more powerful ones will hook your readers.
For those of you who struggle with showing and not telling, focusing on using better verbs will help tremendously.
#4 – They reduce weak adverbs
When you’re writing, you may have a tendency to write sentences like, “I gripped the steering wheel firmly.” While this doesn’t look like a terrible sentence, it also doesn’t convey a very strong visual.
Whenever you have an adverb, you should replace it with a stronger verb. That’s all an adverb is. It gives your weak verb a boost but it doesn’t actually make your sentence any stronger.
Instead, replace “gripped firmly” with a powerful verb like “clenched” or “squeezed.”
“I clenched the steering wheel” is a much stronger sentence that gives a clearer visual.
Go through your writing and pick out some adverbs to replace. Your writing will be better because of it.
#5 – They make for more concise writing
Have you ever picked up a book that looked decent enough and even had an awesome title only to start reading and be turned off by how wordy and jumbled it is?
Strong verbs prevent this.
When you replace weak verbs and adverbs with a single stronger verb, you get rid of the excess writing that can make reading harder.
Because you’re using one word to create a strong visual, you won’t have to write more trying to describe how it looks to you. That strong verb does the job for you.
This also allows for easier, more fluid writing and reading.
Strong action verbs for better writing
I won’t lie. One of the most frustrating things to read is a book that lacks strong verbs in scenes that are meant to be full of action.
You’ll find this most often in fiction, but nonfiction books can be just as (if not more!) guilty of this. When you have a story that should leave the reader’s heart pounding but it doesn’t even raise their eyebrows, you have to do some digging to improve.
Here’s a list of strong action verbs to improve your writing: