If your writing seems a little dull, tap into this easy trick—focus on the verbs. Using direct, precise, and active verbs instantly makes your writing stronger.

These verbs move your story forward, create powerful imagery, and convey a confident tone.

Jumping in Leaves

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Vivid Verbs


Avoid “to be” verbs (is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been) and other linking verbs. You may not be able to eliminate them completely, but replacing linking verbs with action verbs will more effectively communicate your point.

Example: It was a beautiful day. // The day sparkled with a bright sun.


Select the best verb for what you’re trying to convey. And don’t rely on adjectives and adverbs to do all the work. The right verb has the power to bring an image to mind with a single word.

Example: He quickly poured a cup of coffee. // He dumped coffee into the mug.


Construct sentences in the active voice, meaning the subject performs an action. (Passive voice occurs when the object is acted upon by a subject—or the subject may be left out completely.) In some instances, passive voice makes more sense. But in most cases, active verbs will strengthen your writing.

Example: The cake was baked by my aunt. // My aunt baked the cake.

Do you use direct, precise, and active verbs?


Write for fifteen minutes. Pay special attention to the verbs you use. (An extra challenge—should you choose to take it on: try not to include any adjectives and adverbs. It will force you to use stronger verbs.)

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please respond to some of the other comments too!

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

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