Monday, June 06, 2005

Editing Tip: Linking Verbs vs. Action Verbs

A linking verb (or copula verb) makes your sentence into an equation. Sentence subject equals sentence predicate. Therefore, the best time to use one is when you want to draw a conclusion for your readers.

  • The weather is awful.
  • You look mahvelous.
  • Something's smelling up the garage.

In these instances, the reader has no choice but to agree with what you're saying in order to keep reading. You are deciding what the reader will think and experience, making it simple for them to read and understand.

To give the reader more freedom of imagination, employ action verbs.

  • The storm lowered off the Newburyport coastline.
  • Your hair sparkles in the sunlight.
  • She inhaled a whiff of yesterday's banana peels when she opened the door to the garage.

In these instances, readers have a choice about what conclusions to draw from the imagery, and they need to use their imaginations to experience what you're writing about. It's harder work for them, but more rewarding and engaging.

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