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Writing Workout: Muscle Verb Sharpening
The adverb is not your friend…. Safely energize your prose
with active verbs... (Stephen King)
Adverbs help out weak verbs, and most of the time both words can
be replaced by one MUSCULAR verb. In other words, I can write, “She
walked slowly into the haunted house,” or I can write, “She tiptoed into
the haunted house.” As a reader I can see her tiptoe, but I have a hard
time seeing her walk slowly. Muscle verbs say more in less time.
Below you’ll find some weak verbs and adverbs. Try replacing
them with one strong verb.
Example: The boy walked hesitantly into the old falling-down
The boy crept one step at a time into the old mansion.
1. Sally walked quickly down the stairs on Christmas
morning to find a gigantic stuffed bear sitting under the
2. Brad went determinedly onto the battlefield.
3. Sarah smiled knowingly when she answered the question
4. Jamal cried loudly when the older boys took his ball.
5. Harvey laughed loudly when he heard the joke.
6. Susan moved shyly onto the dance floor.
7. Joe stared angrily at his mother.
8. James noisily ate his soup.