It’s Day 19 of our series, 31 Days of Writing Tips. Each post in this series has been written in five minutes flat on a one-word prompt in conjunction with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes.

Find more posts in the series here.

Today’s writing prompt is: STRONG




Today’s writing tip is: Use strong verbs.

Read through your work and check your verb choices. Can you make any of them stronger, more interesting, more unique?

Pay special attention to any variations of “to be” verbs, such as am, are, is, was, were, etc. When possible, swap them out for more colourful verb choices.

For example:

Instead of: It was sunny.

Try something like: I squinted from the bright sun and endless blue sky.

Shawn Smucker is a writer I admire, so I picked up a copy of his latest novel, Light from Distant Stars, to see if I could find some examples of strong verb choices. (Affliliate links used in this post.)

Here’s what I found after randomly opening the book:

Small, upward-facing lights illuminate the red-brown brick of Saint Thomas, and interior evening lights push the stained-glass colors onto the street. He turns before he gets to the main entrance of the church and walks up the long, covered walkway to the chapel. Off to his right, the fountain sends its endless supply of water up to where it gathers before running over the edge of one pool, then another, and finally back into the ground from where it came. Time does not stop. He arrives at the large glass doors that go into the side of the old church. He tugs on the handle, and the door reluctantly budges.

Inside the door, he cleans his shoes off on the mat before turning directly into the small chapel. It’s warm inside. A large red oriental rug stretches the length of the room. Chairs skirt the outside.

Do you see one single sentence in that excerpt that contains am, is, was, or were? I couldn’t find one.

To me, this is good writing.


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