What Are Strong Verbs?


Good morning my toy-dustian friends!

It’s time for a writing tip.


Let’s pretend you’re writing a Toydust fan-fiction story. Because let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t want to write a fan-fic about me? (insert sarcasm)

And let’s further pretend you had written something like:

“Toydust walked excitedly out of Dallas Vintage Toys, thrilled with his purchase.”

Is there anything wrong with the way this is written?

It’s a grammatically correct sentence, after all. At least according to my computer’s grammar-checker-underlining thing.

But let’s take a closer look.

When writing your stories it’s good to use verbs that give the reader a clear picture of what is happening. A verb that gives a clear picture of the action is often referred to as a strong verb.

The verb in our example sentence above is “walked” and it’s assisted with the adverb “excitedly.”  So, does “walked excitedly” give us a clear picture of me coming out of the store?

I would say no because there are different ways a person could walk excitedly.

So what is a strong verb we could use to replace “walked excitedly” that would give the reader a more specific mental image?

What about “pranced?”

“Toydust pranced out of Dallas Vintage Toys, thrilled with his purchase.”

To prance means to have a leap in your step and is somewhere between walking and running. This gives us a more precise mental picture than “walked excitedly.”

And if people have a leap in their step, we can see they are excited. So if we use the verb “prance” there isn’t a need for the adverb “excitedly.”

Okay, now we have a verb that gives us a clear picture of the action, but what else happened as a result of this edit?

“Pranced” is one syllable. At least the way I say it. “Walked excitedly” is five syllables. Not only do we have a more specific mental image, but the sentence reads smoother with four less syllables to go through.

So, remember to choose strong verbs, and have fun writing your stories!

Toydust out!

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