• http://www.agirlandherdiary.blogspot.com Stephanie Scott

    Why stick with one adverb when two will do! Just kidding. I tend to use adverbs sparingly (see what I did there?) but I probably rely too much on adjectives. I try to pare down in editing to precise descriptors and not too many, even if they are funny and amuse me ;)

    A writing book I read said to describe using verbs and nouns. It can be a real challenge, so I try it first, and if it feels clunky I throw in some of the dreaded “A’s.”

    Thanks for a great post!
    Read Stephanie Scott´s last article ..Blogging A to Z: Hart of Dixie

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Ah, the dreaded “A’s”. Perhaps that should have been the title for this post. I think using verbs and nouns is a harder, but sometimes more satisfying way to create descriptions. You’re right that it is better to use the dreaded “A’s” than end up with clunky sentences. Thanks for your comments.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://www.zmcknight.com Zoe McKnight

    So true. It’s totally worth it to take a moment and think of a descriptive, yet, common word to really convey the scene. I hate it when you can tell that a writer searched a thesaurus for a fancy word to replace a verb, but the word escapes the average reader’s comprehension so it defeats the purpose. Great article.

  • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

    Thanks Zoe. I love the fancy words, too (writers are like that), but I think you need to find the write balance and edit yourself.
    Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://carldagostino.wordpress.com Carl D’Agostino

    Often forget how strong verbs can be as effective and even more effective that adj and adv. Another way to go which I really appreciate is use of creative similes and metaphors vs mere adj and adv.
    Read Carl D’Agostino´s last article ..The buffalo Nickel by Carl D’Agostino

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Good point, Carl. Did you read Sarah Baughman’s great Write It Sideways piece on metaphors?
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://www.thejadedlens.com Britton Minor

    This is great stuff – um, I mean: Your advice rocks!
    I like the way you wrote this – um, I mean: I’m drooling over your suggestions.
    You are nice – um, I mean: I’m overjoyed that you shared such helpful advice.
    Let’s do this again -um, I mean, I’ll roam here again soon, to ingest more of your tasty advice..
    Read Britton Minor´s last article ..Ding-dong Ditch

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Hey, Britton. I see what you did there ;). Nice revisions.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://bwterao.wordpress.com Barbara Terao

    I will use these tips to edit my essays. Thanks, Susan! You may have been exaggerating to make a point (haha), or you may have different information than I do, but I heard that Mt. Whitney in California is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. So I checked Wikipedia. Mt. Ranier is mighty close but not the tallest. Consider me your nit-picker of the day, and feel free to return the favor!

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Barb, you’re right, of course. Seems Mt. Rainier isn’t even a close second. Should have done a little fact checking for my example. Lucky to have you. Or maybe it was a secret code I was sending to my contact in Washington. I’ll never tell.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://www.familyarchaeologist.com Linda Gartz

    All good reminders. I like to jot down the most vivid words, phrases and metaphors as I read a book with glorious language. They are reminders of how these writers THOUGHT about a moment, a scene, an emotion — and can inspire new ways of thinking for me. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
    Oh, and speaking of Mt. Rainier, my brothers live in Seattle so I’ve traveled there often. Mt. Rainier is not often visible from Seattle due to the rainy climate. Those days when you might or might now see it, claimed this wonderful expression from my then sister-in-law, “I love it here when Mt. Rainier is lurking in the clouds.” So much more powerful than “hiding.” Don’t you think?
    Read Linda Gartz´s last article ..Not a drop of water

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Linda, lurk is a wonderful verb. We were lucky when we visited Mt. Rainier. The peak was just as described here, thrusting into brilliant blue skies, not lurking in the clouds. (Although it does not reign as the tallest peak in the lower 48, as it turns out. Thanks to Barb for the correction.)
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://www.linguisticsintheclassroom.com Ann Evans

    Thank you. I have shamelessly stolen these words, if you don’t mind, and will use them in my class tomorrow. I don’t know about draping it in black — maybe I’ll just not show it to them until they’ve come up with their own words.

    Linda Gartz’s posting is also a reminder that I should always make note of the good language as well as the bad words.
    Read Ann Evans´s last article ..Paying the Piper – the failure of American high schools

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Ann, I’d love to hear how your class goes. I’ve used it from 3rd grade through adults, and it almost always gets giggles. If they’re kids, I warn you to keep them from giving their choices aloud, unless you want to play censor or answer a lot of parental questions. Good luck.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

    Found this today—writing advice from C.S. Lewis—that addresses this same topic with eloquence.
    Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://serbaughman.wordpress.com/ Sarah Baughman

    Great post with very practical advice! (Actually, I should probably find a better word than “great” to describe it… :) ) I like the exercise you used with your students– it’s helpful to give such concrete suggestions. Powerful words are easy to take for granted and students might not recognize why one paragraph written with such strong descriptive language reads better than another until they’re given the chance to isolate specific words.
    Read Sarah Baughman´s last article ..Guest Post: Two Hours To Write!

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Thanks, Sarah. I love this exercise too. It gets even the most reluctant writers engaged.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

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  • http://thepatientdreamer.com/ patientdreamer

    This was a great post. Loved the examples, show instead of tell always ‘gets’ me.
    Thankyou, I am going to print this out and keep for referrence when editing my work.
    Thankyou.
    Read patientdreamer´s last article ..“A walk with me in Aotearoa” part 6

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      I love when people print out my posts! It gives me a little thrill. I hope it continues to help and inspire you.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • Lori Mozdzierz

    Thanks, Coach Susanna, for whipping our verb bods into shape with this superb post!

    The recent “went” exercise you gave your students is thought provoking.
    (1) bolted, made a mad dash
    (2) floated, drifted
    (3) bumbled [Love the alliteration this brings to the line.]
    (4) trudged [LOL! At temp of 104, that nurse better be coming in to be a patient ;D]
    (5) veered
    (6) rose
    (7) died
    (8) bounced, pounced
    (9) stormed
    (10) soared

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Lori, you were the only one brave enough to take the challenge. “Veered” is great for #5; it’s a strong, descriptive word that adds meaning and context to the sentence.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • Kidane Woldeyesus

    Thanks for the useful tips on the use of strong words. As English is my second language, your advice is practical.

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Kidane, I think you are so brave for writing in a second language. Good luck and I’m glad I was able to help. English is a tough language to use, even for native speakers.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://www.marriedtowine.com Lisa

    Thanks for the fun and useful article (I now plan on working “guffawed” into something, don’t know what yet, but SOMETHING–great word!).

    It may be antiquated, but I still reference good ole Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” periodically: write with nouns and verbs, avoid fancy words, avoid the use of qualifiers, etc, etc. We all know, rules are made to be broken, but I find that these strict usage guidelines help me focus on creating a good story without getting lost in the flowery language that can be oh so fun to get lost in (as a writer, but NOT as a reader).
    Read Lisa´s last article ..It’s Official: I’m an Immigrant (unless you’re the UK Border Patrol, in which case, just kidding)

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan Bearman

      Lisa, let us know when you find a good home for guffawed. It is such a funny word. And I agree, you can never go wrong with Strunk and White.
      Read Susan Bearman´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

  • http://sharonsettle.wordpress.com Sharon Settle

    George Carlin is the perfect person to mention in this article. I often watch video clips of his shows online when I am in need of some word power. He was a master at engaging an audience with the power of string together words. He loved words and made us love them too.
    Read Sharon Settle´s last article ..Break Out Those Characters

    • http://2kop.blogspot.com Susan @ 2KoP

      Sharon, I loved the way George played with words. As you say, he was a master.
      Read Susan @ 2KoP´s last article ..Wordless Wednesday #5: Lacy?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003407029777 Safae

        Awesome photos! My fvraoite is the photo of your little one’s feet dangling from the chair. Priceless.I’d love for you to come by and link your WW post up on my linky when you get a chance. See you soon! Have a great day.Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud@TweetingMama

  • http://www.jasonjgcarnrike.blocks.pro Jason

    This is definitely a helpful piece. And the exercise replacing ‘went’ with another verb was actually pretty fun. But I’m kind of a nerd that way, I guess.
    Read Jason´s last article ..Realization

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