Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Behind the Books: Vivid Verbs in Expository Literature

What’s the difference between an active verb, like walk, and a vivid verb like stomp or tiptoe? A vivid verb does double duty.

If you read the sentence, “The girl walked across the room,” you know one thing—the girl moved from Point A to Point B. But if you read the sentence, “The girl stomped across the room,” you still know that she moved, and you also know how she feels. She’s angry. And if you read the sentence, “The girl tiptoed across the room,” you know that she moved and that she’s trying to be quiet or sneaky. A vivid verb is powerful because it allows you to pack a lot of information into a single word.

Consider this brief excerpt from Rain, Rain, Rain Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson (Holt, 2004):

“Splitter, splat, splash! Rain gushes into the rain forest. It soaks the moss, drizzles of dangling vines, and thrums against slick waxy leaves.”

As you read this, can’t you see what’s happening in your mind’s eye? When writing is steeped with vivid verbs, it can paint a picture with words.

How can we encourage students to notice how an author uses verbs as they are reading and think carefully about their own verb choices. I'll provide a fun activity on Friday.

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