Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call To Action


UPDATE: I woke up this morning with my right eye glued shut by icky goo. My throat's raw, my nose is a leaky red mess, and my head throbs, despite Tylenol cold tablets. I don't care if I'm sick, I'm back at work. No more lounging about for this girl!

So, how much thought do you give to verbs? I know, (is she really going there?) Yes, I am. Because, I caught myself using gurunds too often. For more info, check out, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerund. Now that you've refreshed your knowledge about what the heck a gerund is, you should do your best to avoid over-using them. Less ing, more action!

Verbs move the story along. Hattie didn't just FEEL ANGRY. Hattie ENGAGES IN BEHAVIOR TO SHOWCASE JUST HOW ANGRY SHE IS.

Always use strong verbs. Many editors recommend counting verbs, they suggest we go through our work and circle them. Check to see if you've used exactly the precise verb needed.

Matt walks briskly to make the bus because he always leaves the house late. SHOULD BE CHANGED TO: Matt often leaves the house late and is forced to sprint to catch the bus on time. (Sprint says in one stronger word what walks briskly says in two.) MO BETTER!

Think visually. It's fine to get inside a character's head, but you've heard this over and over, SHOW DON'T TELL. Us writer's (mere mortals that we are) fall into bad habits. Verbs propel the reader through the story. We need to increase our verb use, and we need to use the strongest verb to convey what's happening. Sounds easy, it's not. Careful editing is time consuming!

Oh crap. Just one more thing to worry about, right? If you do nothing else today, go through a few paragraphs you've written, and be brave and ditch those gerunds and adverbs. You won't be sorry.


All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

15 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Ohhh, you've got to feel miserable! And you're writing about gerunds and adverbs!

Excellent advice and a good reminder. Now go put your feet up! (I'm a bossy mom. :) )

Elizabeth

Angie Ledbetter said...

True and good reminder. Hate the goopy eye syndrome. eww. Feel better!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Excellent advice. I shall sprint to the liquor cabinet and splash amber liquid into a tumbler. Wish it were true...

Feel better! Moaning helps.

Elspeth

ellen abbott said...

How can you even think feeling like that?

Helen Ginger said...

Very good tutorial. Thanks.

And as to how you woke up this morning, I think it's pretty obvious you were in a bar fight last night.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

But if I'm really nice, can I keep a few adverbs? Please? They're harmless, I promise! You won't even notice they are there!

Hope you feel better! I spent most of the night unable to breathe--not fun!

Joanne said...

"Think visually." Great advice, something I haven't heard but seems like it would be really effective. And hope you're feeling better soon :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - you've got a nasty bout of this flu/cold. I hope you feel better asap!

Good reminder on our verbs!

Tabitha Bird said...

I am a massive fan of verbs. Especially the strong ones. I actually started an index book of ones I find that I love.

Oh verbs, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Active verbs. Years ago, an editor told me that. If possible, always have your first verb in a sentence an active verb rather than a form of to be. Good post, great reminder!

Marguerite said...

You would make a great English teacher! My kids call me Noah Webster's daughter, as I'm a bit of a grammar freak. Strong verbs are good! Get well, soon!

Cloudia said...

I go totally on instinct and sound. Also enjoy discovering neologisms - but only if they instantly enchant and inform, not disrupt the flow....

Ease for the reader is important to me. That many different species of reader ENJOY reading my novel and find it easy yet rewarding going is afeather in my cap, I think.


Aloha, Friend!


Comfort Spiral

cassandrajade said...

Thanks for the excellent advice. Your examples were very clear. I've realised recently that I do far too much telling in my stories.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Hope you feel better soon!

Just when I thought it was safe to safe, "Well done, Donna" on my story edits!! Now I have to go back and look for those nasty gerunds!! LOL!

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Adverbs and gerunds? Please- Elizabeth don't do it, not when you're sick. Grammar is just not health-giving stuff. :)

I'm still trying to get "is" , "was" and "had" out of my writing and at the same time try to keep my ever dwindling word count up. Eish!