Verbs – Unsung Heroes – Tim Harris

Hi WestWorders,

I believe verbs should wear capes. These simple ‘doing words’ can be a writer’s best friend. Verbs are supercharged words that can take your writing to the next level. I just love them!

“Slow down, Tim. Why the strong love for verbs? Are you going to … like … marry one or something?”

Um, no. But let me explain.

Often, young writers are asked to add more description to their writing. And naturally, the ‘go to’ is to use a bunch of adjectives. After all, adjective are describing words.

There is, however, a problem. Because adjectives are so easy to use as ‘description enhancers’, they are often overused. I kid you not, I once saw a sentence in one of my classes that looked something like this.

The fluffy, hairy, cunning, sneaky cat walked along the splintered, rotten, rusty, old, disgusting fence.

“Yikes! My head hurts.”

I feel your pain.

Adjectives are wonderful tools if we use them sparingly. But verbs, on the other hand, can be used more generously without the reader feeling ‘yelled’ at.

Let’s look at an example.

Sally walked over to the diving block. She stretched her arms to warm up. Moving onto the platform, she bent down and held the edge of the block. She dived off and landed in the water, swimming to the other end of the pool.

This is a terrific paragraph about Sally. There is certainly room to add an adjective or two. But what if we simply used more interesting verbs to add a descriptive effect? What if we changed Sally’s character by changing the verbs?

Sally strode over to the diving block. She flexed her arms to loosen up. Stepping onto the platform, she crouched down and gripped the edge of the block. She launched off and united with the water, gliding to the other end of the pool.

Suddenly, our paragraph has gone to the next level. By using interesting verbs, we have painted a clear picture of the scene. The reader knows that Sally is a strong swimmer and that she is in complete control.

Focus on verbs the next time you write and let me know how you go!




  1. Madeleine Li

    This is a very strong post about verbs. It shows how we can use verbs like adjectives in way. Doing this certainly gives your writing more variety. I would like to do exactly as the example in this blog does and pay more attention to the verbs I use in my writing.

    • Tim Harris

      Well said, Madeleine. Verbs can certainly have that ‘adjective’ effect when we use them well.

  2. Collin Hao

    I totally agree. Verbs are one of the most varied and descriptive techniques available in writing, and I will definetly use them more in my writing.

    • Tim Harris

      That’s great to hear, Collin!

  3. Leila

    These are some great tips that I will definitely use from now on. Before I read this I thought that using lots of adjectives can make your writing sound splendid! However, now I see that verbs can be just as useful.

    • Tim Harris

      Bring on the verbs, Leila!


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