Language & Diction

‘If words be made of breath and breath of life’

Words are weighted. Writers cannot afford to carelessly toss them scatter-shot like a handful of pebbles. Each word is an arrow, the sentence, a trajectory. Our readers, the mark. Verbs are arrows in flight. They embody action, movement, and drive.


Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe
First, wind, when its force is roused, whips up waves, founders tall ships and scatters clouds. Sometimes scouring plains with hurricane force it strews them with huge trees and batters mountain peaks with blasts that hew down forests. Such is wind in its fury, when it whoops aloud with a mad menace in its shouting. Without question, therefore, there must be invisible particles of wind that sweep sea, that sweep land, that sweep the clouds in the sky, swooping upon them and whirling them along in a headlong hurricane…Such, therefore, must be the movement of blasts of wind also. When they have come surging along some course like a rushing river, they push obstacles before them and buffet them with repeated blows; and sometimes, eddying round and round, they snatch them up and carry them along in a swiftly circling vortex


Lucretius’ poem On the Nature of the Universe captures the force of life and through his poetic use of verbs we feel the potency of movement and action. Just count how many different verbs he uses to depict the power of wind. Think of your characters as natural elements.


What drives your story? Take a character you’re working on and list the verbs, the actions that make this person live and breathe. What makes your character a force of life? What kind of force are they? Put your character in flight with strong and concise use of verbs. Let’s see your character in action, shaking the earth, rustling trees, and making the cosmos wheel. Post your scenes and hit us with your best shot.

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