Saturday, September 13, 2014

Taking the Move Out Of Your Writing: Choosing Better Verbs #amwriting #editing #authorhelp

On Facebook I often have a Dear Author post that deals with what's going on around me. It might be a rant about usage of passive voice, or lack of etiquette, or a plea for more bacon and man candy posted on my wall.. who knows what tickles my fancy at any given moment. I have decided since I don't personally blog enough that I would transfer my Dear Author posts here.

So today's post: 

Dear Authors,

Please strike the word "move" from your writing vocabulary. It's weak and non-descriptive. Example: He moved across the yard. He skipped (or hobbled, limped, crawled, flew, streaked, sashayed, waddled) across the yard. See how much better that is? Think how much better your sex scenes will be, too! No more moving in and out, moving his hand up her body (yes, get rid of body as well!)

Love, Mia.


The word "move" is a pet peeve of mine while reading, in my own writing, and in any editing I do for other authors. It's a vague verb and doesn't give the reader a good description of what's going on besides something or someone changing location (however small.) It's not a horrible word all alone, but when you read a paragraph in a book that contains three or four moves in one paragraph it becomes tedious.

The above example shows that a better verb gives you an entirely different mental picture. Let's discuss it more here.

Example: He moved across the yard.
Better: He skipped (or hobbled, limped, crawled, flew, streaked, sashayed, waddled) across the yard.

A man might waddle because he's overweight, he might be limping because he's a zombie and he's missing half of his leg. He's skipping because he's won the lotto, or he's crawling because he doesn't want to be seen by the Ninjas next door. There are so many mental images you can give your reader by simply changing that one word.

Sex scenes can be flooded with the word move if the author isn't careful.

Example: He moved in and out. 
Better: He thrust. 

Example: He moved his hand up her body. (The word BODY is an entirely different rant, but strike that from your vocabulary, too!)
Better: He caressed a path from her abdomen to the hem of her panties.

Places where "move" might be okay....
Example: Move your ass! 
Example: He moved from NYC to Denver last week. 
Example: He's got the moves like Jagger. (He doesn't, but it works.)

As an order, move works. It also works in the general terms of packing your crap and living somewhere else because it takes too long to say, "I packed my crap and relocated to Denver." And moves like Jagger...enough said. 

See how much better it is to use active verbs when possible? 


Thanks for stopping by! 


Alison Mann said...

I feel the same about "got"!

Mia Downing said...

Alison, I'll have to do another post about got! LOL Thanks for commenting!

Kayelle Allen said...

I get irritated by "made his way" - as in "He made his way across the room." If you watch any weather report, you'll hear about a front making its way across some state or region. It's as blah as "move." I'd like to see them both take hikes. :)

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