Knock ’em Dead with Verbs

canstockphoto16415204There’s one thing I’m guilty of doing in my first draft, and that’s writing characters who constantly respond by smiling, frowning, nodding or shaking their heads. So, when I go back to update that draft, I try to come up with more expressive and emotional responses.

I’ve put together a list of bland, generic verbs and suggestions that more clearly show what’s happening. These are just some random ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

INSTEAD OF… TRY USING…
she smiled
  • her eyebrows rose with excitement
  • there was a suspicious line at the corners of her mouth
  • her lips parted in surprise
  • she bit her lip to stifle a grin
  • her mouth curved into an unconscious smile
  • her face brightened at the suggestion
he frowned
  • his brows drew together in an agonized expression
  • a muscle flicked angrily in his jaw
  • a cold, congested expression settled on his faced
  • his brow furrow
  • his mouth thinning with displeasure
  • he pressed his lips together in anger
she nodded
  • she reached out, lacing his fingers with her own
  • she put a hand on his shoulder, comforting him
  • an electrifying shudder reverberated through her
  • she licked her shiny lips
  • somehow she managed to face him
  • she hugged her arms to her
  • she moved in an instinctive gesture of comfort
  • she slapped him heartily on the back
  • she touched her forehead slightly in a mock salute
he shook his head
  • he bent his head and studied his hands
  • touched his trembling lips with one finger
  • his fingers drummed distractedly on the table
  • he jerked away from her
  • he remained absolutely motionless for a moment
  • he dragged her back hard against him
  • he swallowed and squared his shoulders
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One thought on “Knock ’em Dead with Verbs

  1. Pingback: Language of the Body: Add visual dialog to your conversations | JC Gatlin - Author

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