How do you strengthen your writing so that it is compelling and memorable? The secret is verbs. Verbs are the workhorses of the English language by providing critical sentence structure. Usually, verbs describe actions and come in three tenses – past, present, and future. By using powerful verbs in your writing, you will create content that sticks in the reader’s mind and convinces them of your expertise.
Identify weak and strong verbs
The first step to mastering verbs is identifying verb strength, and this is primarily found on how the past tense is formed. Weak verbs leave the basic form of the verb unchanged and simply tack on the endings -ed, -d, or -t to the base form (walk becomes walked). In contrast, a strong verb will change the primary vowel to form a past tense version (swim becomes swam). Interestingly, strong verbs can become weak from overuse. The word “say” is technically a strong verb because the past tense is “said,” but the overuse of the word in common writing and speech weakens it. Your takeaway? Pay close attention to the shift from present to past tense and keep an eye out for any verb which is repeatedly overused in common speech.
How to find strong verbs
When it comes to finding strong verbs in your writing – don’t worry about it on your first draft. Just write! Afterwards, grab yourself a thesaurus (or use one online) and begin the process of discovering the rich verbs in the English language. Why wait until editing to find strong verbs? One reason is that your complete manuscript, no matter how lopsided and awkward, will have a clear thread of action, and this will guide you to finding the best possible verbs to strengthen your language. As you edit, keep a list of strong verbs that you like and practice using them in your writing until they come more naturally to you. Over time, repeated exposure and use will ensure that your verb vocabulary sizzles!
Have more questions about how to include power verbs in your writing or do you need someone to edit your piece and find those verbs for you? Set up a consultation with me to discuss your needs!