- Find out whether you're verb-impaired.
- Fix wimpy, vague writing that induces the MEGO effect. (MEGO = My Eyes Glaze Over)
- Use this list while in recovery.
The one way to most immediately see the biggest possible improvement in your writing is to choose higher quality verbs. For this reason, I’m suggesting this as your New Year’s writing resolution.
First, self-diagnose to find out whether you're verb-impaired. Then set out to become verb-talented.
Print a hard copy of a document you wrote and circle all the verbs. Read them aloud as a list. You may realize without prompting that they're generic or repetitive. But even worse, your verb choices may be alienating readers. To objectively evaluate the strength of your verbs, ask yourself the following questions and compare with the following lists.
1. Are your verbs so precise that they aren't easily interchangeable with their neighbors?
2. Do they evoke one of the five senses? Can you picture, feel or hear them?
3. Do they have motion?
4. Are they …
… wimpy ?
§ Is, was, be, been
§ Serves to (another verb)
… overused tech verbs? (fine to use, but other verbs may be more descriptive and precise)
Multi-syllable for no good reason?
Initiate (start), utilize (use), facilitate (help), educate (teach), designate (name)
Or are they active and precise?
Before ending this post with a list of super-hero verbs suitable for business writing, may I suggest that you begin harvesting your own favorites from an article or book that you recently enjoyed. My fave verb source is National Geographic magazine.
Secondly, I suggest you develop your ability to capture verbs in the moment of activity, rather than conjure them after you’ve returned to your desk. More on that in a future post.
And if I haven’t convinced you yet that college verbs (often derived from Latin) aren’t as good as plainer verbs (often derived from Anglo-Saxon), ask yourself whether this time-honored saying would still be with us today had it been stated less plainly.
Memorable and to the point: “A stitch in time saves nine.”
Not: “A sufficiently early suture eliminates the necessity for subsequent multiple interventions.”
Ring in the new year by becoming a verb warrior. Challenge yourself to choose verbs well.
Strong one- syllable verbs
SEND, MATCH, BUILD, RAISE, LOCK, FIND, BLUR, FRET, WIN, EARN, GAIN, SHOW, SOLVE, BLOCK, LOOK , STEM, POST, PACK, TALK, SAIL, FLIP, PUSH, CARE, TEACH, SACK, STRIP, BET, PLAY, END, HIDE, SWAY, STAND, LAG, SCRUB, CUT, FORM, BIND, LEAK, BELCH, SPEW, CRACK, HEAR, MEET, NEED, TURN, BUZZ, VIEW, SPEAK, FIT, STORE , MATCH , BREATHE, HOP, SQUELCH, PUT , FLY, RAISE, CHECK, GRADE , SCARE, RACE, FUME,WEIGH, FUEL, BUY, STOP, HOP, SPARK, FLOW, TRUST, WANE, LAND, ROLL, CHOKE, JOIN, CLEAN, SMOKE, CAKE, EDGE, SPEND, RATE, SAVE, STITCH, TRIM, SWIM, FEAR, DIG, ADD, SING, BOOK, BLEND, STIR, MIX, SHARE, DULL, SMOOTH, SLICE, RUN, HOLD, CLIMB …
PROTECT, MEASURE, LEAPFROG, DOUBLE, TRIPLE, STUMBLE, COLLIDE, MANAGE, ABSORB, DICTATE, COLLECT, COMPLETE, SUFFER, QUESTION, ADVANCE, REPEAT, BOTHER, REVEAL, FORESEE, TOPPLE, WELCOME, BEFRIEND, COMPLETE, INDICT, PREFER, DECIDE, EVOLVE, LISTEN, REFLECT, CONSTRAIN, TIDY, PRACTICE, WONDER, WORRY, DONATE, EXTRACT, REPLACE, RESCUE, EXCEL, RELEASE, CENTER, PRE-EMPT, HURRY, COLLATE, REPEL, OFFER, INSPIRE, ATTRACT, STUDY, RETURN …