Now it’s all about the verbs

I’ve finished another round of revisions by marking up my novel chapters with a yellow marker to indicate telling instead of showing passages  and noting with a red pen places where I need to add and subtract material and provide major rewrites – even whole chapters. Now I’m going through the book again paying attention to verbs.

One of my beta readers said:

I also sense that there are opportunities here for verbs that better-convey how people are using the space. For example, you can surely upgrade words like “watches,” “going in,” “been in,” and “give up.” Although maybe there’s a deliberate simplicity in choosing such clear verbs, I also sense that there’s more to observe that we’re missing because of [this] plain style.

This reader was so thorough that he went through the text line by line indicating where I could improve my verbs. For example:

“He gets out…” My reader said, ˜Another opportunity to convey mood with stronger verbs:’ “He skips out…” or “He pops out…” Same with her, depending on how she’s feeling obviously: “she walks around…” to “she strolls around…” or “she marches…” or “she bolts…” or “she shuffles…” I mean, lots of options to color what’s going on.’

I’m forever grateful for such attention to detail. Now with the daunting task to change my simplistic verbs to ones that make my characters much more interesting. I’m consulting my online Thesaurus and dictionary as I go through the text word by word again. I also just found a couple of great lists on Google. Every little bit helps.

Microsoft Word - Action Fuckin' Verbs.doc

action verbs


  1. Thanks for these lists, Madeline. Time spent editing ensures each word is the perfect word.

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