The left column shows a list of weak action words with red arrows pointing to the right column with strong action verbs.

This is part 6 in a nine part series on how to show instead of tell.

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 1

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 2

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 3

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 4

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 5

Currently reading Part 6

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 7

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 8

Show, don’t tell Tip #5: Find more specific verbs

Are you catching a pattern yet? Learning to show instead of tell involves you making your language more specific, turning weaker words into stronger words. We’ve picked on nouns, adjectives, and adverbs so far. It’s time for verbs.

 

Try to avoid common verbs like runeatsleepdrink, and walk. Instead, make your verbs more specific to your character’s actions and personalities: sprintinhalesnoozesipstagger.

 

Don’t just choose verbs on a whim. Always choose your verbs (and other parts of speech) with a purpose.

Try it out!

Fix this boring passage to make it show instead of tell by making the verbs more specific. Change the verbs in bold.

 

The character in this story is a fat, lazy troll who walks with a limp and tends to bellow instead of talk.

Hubgrub walked across his cave and sat in his stone chair. He put both hands on the stone armrests and leaned his head back. Suddenly, he was hungry. “Get me some food!” he said to his son. When his son didn’t move, Hubgrub was mad. He stood up and went to get some food himself.

 

I bet you’re getting pretty good at this now.

 

Go back to other projects you’ve done, and make stronger verbs.

 

And when you’re done, go ahead and read on.

 

Read More

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 1

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 2

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 3

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 4

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 5

Currently reading Part 6

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 7

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 8