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Action Verbs for Writers

A basic list of action verbs

Early in my writing career, I discovered that using action verbs adds to the color and passion of nearly any type of writing (from novels to screenplays to resumes). For some unknown reason, new writers almost reflexisively tend toward verbs of being. These verbs are inert and slow down description. For example:

Johnny is in bed.

That tells the reader the basics of Johnny's situation, but Johnny is essentially static. Instead, how about:

Johnny collapses into the bed.

Isn't the second sentence much more compelling? I created a two page list of action verbs that I hang on the wall in front of me when I'm writing. this list acts as both a reminder to use action verbs and as a handy reference. If I'm stuck, I skim the list and often, even if I don't see the verb I'm looking to use, the idea of an appropriate word is sparked in my mind.

Here I have posted the my list as a Microsoft Word document and Adobe Acrobat PDF file. This list is most useful if you add your own favorite action verbs. Note them when you're reading other people's work and you will expand your working voabulary.

Action Verb List in Microsoft Word format (.doc, 76K)

Action Verb List in Adobe Acrobat PDF format (.pdf, 46K)


PS: I collected all of this information and more in a handy poster for easy reference. Click here to check it out.