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.

A lot.

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:

  1. The character is my grandmother
  2. The character knows my grandmother.
  3. 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.


August 18, 2011. Tags: , . Uncategorized.


  1. Jill replied:

    Lol, Shel! I can honestly say I’ve never put much thought into this before now. You made me scroll back through my MS to see how many “walked” I used! Whew. I’m happy to say I’m in the clear on this one, but thanks for keeping me on my toes with this post! 🙂

  2. Meredith replied:

    I love this! I’m totally bookmarking this post for when I need a better verb than “walk.” 😉

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