Look Both Ways and…
Recently I pulled out a piece of old writing and ended up a little embarrassed by how horrible it was that my characters walked everywhere. They also turned and looked.
It was flat, flat, flat writing . Like a 180-degree-angle-flat.
Now, there are many, many ways to move characters from one place to another and readers don’t need to see exactly how the character got whereever they are going. But, and I do mean BUT, if your character needs to walk or if something happens along the walk then replacing the word walk with a spicier verb is a winning choice.
A stronger, more descriptive verb will show more about how the character got there and it can show who the character is.
Consider, for a moment, a character who says:
I dillydallied on the way to work.
There are three options for this character:
- The character is my grandmother
- The character knows my grandmother.
- The character is a smart ass.
Number 3? Bingo! We have a winner! But in addition to getting who the character is, we also know how the character traveled. Here are some primo examples of how I make verbs work for me. 🙂
My main characters: Take off, Head out, Tiptoe, Crash, Flee and Scramble. I have one character who Skedaddles. I think she knows my grandmother. Anyway…I hope you can see how they tend to be a little overly dramatic.
Cocky (or confident) guy characters: Amble, Stroll, Saunter, Hike
Inebriated characters move with a “b” sound: Stumble, Wobble and Bob. The only exception I can think of is Weave. It’s important to note: I write teen fiction so my characters are not inebriated but they can be clumsy.
Prissy characters are all about the “nce” sound: Mince or Prance. Yeah. That’s way prissy. Skipping too.
Fast characters: Race, Jog, Flee, Fly – see the “fl” thing – Trot, Gallop – there’s a “horse” thing going on too.
Slow characters move with the “ah” sound: Plod, Trod, and Slogged.
Angry characters use “mp”: Stomp, Clump and March (which has no mp but can be done by MPs)
Hyper characters use the “sc” sound: Scuff, Scramble, Scurry and Skedaddle
Serene characters: Glide or Float
And now it’s time for me to backpedal out of here before I get carried away.
Did I omit your fave? If so, please, please leave it in a comment.