Many writers, myself included, are in love with words. In some traditions, words acquire a sacred dimension. Creation comes into being through God’s word in the Hebrew scripture. The Word became flesh in Christian belief. I often use the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to lead me into meditation as they are considered to hold the power of creation and are full of symbolic meaning and creative energy.
A few years ago I read a book by Rabbi David Cooper titled “God is a Verb.” His understanding is that God has not ceased the work of creation and that God asks us to become co-creators with him. Rabbi Cooper calls this activity of God God-ing and refers to our participation as, for example, David-ing in his case, or, in mine, Victoria-ing. As each of us uses our talents in art or writing or photography we continue the work of creation. So take your own name, add that –ing and go to it!
For today’s post and writing prompt, I’d like to take a look at the role of verbs. When I first ventured into the world of creative writing, one of my major flaws involved an abundant use of passive voice and boring verbs, hyperbolic adjectives and taxing adverbs…perhaps because so much of my early writing emerged in the context of business. Although I haven’t yet “arrived,” participation in critique groups and reading about the art of writing, offered an important insight: active verbs give life to prose and poetry. My earlier attempts to create character and description often fell flat.
Adverbs and adjectives are part of our language for a reason—to add color, texture and other artistic elements to our verbal armory, but discriminating use of these words, peppered with verbs that rock, do make a difference. While there is a role for telling and judicious use of passive voice, success lies in knowing how to achieve balance.
Here are a couple of examples/definitions of what I’m trying to say:
Passive voice—when something is done to the object:
The child was bitten by a bee.
Active voice, the subject is the doer:
The bee bit the child.
And overuse of adjectives and adverbs:
The hefty pass-kicker adroitly kicked the ball between the goal post in spite of the blustery wind.
I’d like to share a poem posted by fellow poet, Jane Hewey on her blog:
Copyright: Jane Hewey
Glacial divides bypass
the dusty canyons thrusting
their will. Moons crawl
through midnights; I want
to touch your singular hurt,
wrap it with my hands
and light-soaked cloths.
I would warm it through
your thick white skin, force myself
into its cold-singe. I want
to evoke you out of the scar
like arctic char augured
from an eight inch ice hole.
http://janehewey.wordpress.com/View all posts by janehewey
I’ve added italics to some of the singular verb and verb derivatives (such as gerunds) Jane chose. While she does use descriptors, the verbs add so much to the flow and strength of the poem.
I hope this inspire you to write a poem, flash fiction or essay incorporating a rich use of verbs. You may want to select something from your archives that never quite satisfied you and try to spice it us a bit. Maybe it’s heavy on adverbs and adjectives, even bordering on “purple prose.” Or grab a dictionary and discover a verb or two that’s new to you.
Feel free to share your results, if you like. To join in:
- Write your poem and post it on your blog or website;
- Copy and paste the direct URL to your poem to Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post, adding your name or identifier where he prompts you;
- I’ll visit you and comment and we hope that you will visit and encourage one another
- Above all, have fun and remember—you are a co-creator!
Special thanks to Jane for allowing me to share her copyrighted poem
(Portions of this post were recently offered at dVerse Poets’ Pub, another site for which I write each month. If you write poetry and are not familiar with this poetry community, it is a source of excellent articles about all things poetic and offers several prompts each week, including a night for Open Links!)
VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.
Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.
Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and always posts at 7 p.m. PST.