Skill 4.2: Active vs Passive Verbs

Banish Boring Words

The verb is the powerhouse of every sentence. If the verbs are dynamic, so is the writing. If the verbs are dull, so is the writing. It’s that simple. I once edited a manuscript where the author claimed to know all about active versus passive verbs, but here are the verbs in his first few sentences: pushed, looked, saw, put, pointed, ran (looked and saw are also markers of a novice—explained later). These are active verbs but boring, overused ones. Your verbs will either sizzle or sag. Where do you find amazing verbs—ones that sizzle? Start with the wonderful book below—I have several copies in my classroom and one on my writing desk at all times. Pages 8-13 provide lists of active verbs. Yes, 6 pages of them! Here is a small sample: praised, rooted, cheered, slapped, scaled, smacked, crushed, bombarded, infiltrated, sniveled, wailed, schlepped, and guzzled. The verbs are categorized by action. For example, under “drank” you’ll find the following: chugged, consumed, downed, gargled, … [Read more...]