You’ve heard all about how adverbs and adjectives are the tools of bad writers, right? That a good writer doesn’t need them? WELL. Although I do think adverbs and adjectives have their place, and I use them pretty often myself, I also know of this fabulous trick you can use to help you eliminate ‘em AND give your writing more punch.
Just kidding, it’s not a trick. It’s verbs! Yay! Seriously: if you start using more interesting verbs, you can ditch those excess descriptors.
Witness Exhibit A:
The writer poured liberal helpings of milk over her cereal.
The writer poured milk over her cereal liberally.
The writer doused her cereal with milk.
Witness Exhibit B:
The woman pushed him hard onto the bed. (Double entendres also something to watch for.)
The woman pushed him onto the bed forcefully.
The woman shoved him onto the bed.
This is fun! Let’s do another. Exhibit C:
The idiots in the car played loud music right outside her window.
The idiots in the car played music loudly right outside her window.
The idiots in the car blasted music right outside her window.
One more’s the charm (that’s a saying, right?). Exhibit D:
The thief stole three Push-Pops from the supermarket while no one was watching.
The thief sneakily stole three Push-Pops from the supermarket.
The thief pilfered three Push-Pops from the supermarket.
Those sentences with more exciting verbs are better, right? More interesting? And they’re shorter to boot, while still packing the same punch. A stronger punch, really. Because that’s what good verbs are for. Smacking some excitement into your words.
Now you try! Here are some dull verbs to watch out for in your writing: walk, run, cover, talk, take, look, smell, touch, have, like, want.
Take a few minutes to scrawl out some alternatives — and don’t forget to try them out the next you write something. You’re welcome!