April 10, 2013

Strong Verbs Give a Strong Message by Sharon Espeseth

Looking forward to spring walks

On holidays, my husband Hank and I drove past a church sporting a brief, but all-encompassing message. All it said was, TRUST, LOVE, FOLLOW, CARE, SHARE. "Wow!" I thought. "That is the Christian faith in a thimble, and it's all verbs.

The Christian walk is one of action. As I scribbled this church sign on a paper napkin, a few Bible verses flashed through my mind.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart." (Proverbs 3:5a)

"Love the Lord your God . . . and love your neighbour as yourself." (Luke 10:27)

"'Come follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.'" (Matthew 4:19)

These few verses fleshed out the memo, but kept the Christian mission succinct. One could add more about caring for people in prison, sharing with widows and orphans, healing the sick, caring for the elderly, acting justly, but that is all included in "love your neighbour as yourself."

Strong verbs! Any writing teacher worth his hire will remind us to use vivid and virile verbs; and go easy on the adverbs.  Precise verbs show action and inject life into a story. Verbs with punch lessen the use of passive voice. To say, "She was driven crazy by the dog," is lame compared to, "The dog drove her crazy when he pattered in with muddy feet." Action verbs tell it like it is. Well-chosen verbs bring life to the page.

The language of the Bible demonstrates effective writing while teaching the spiritual lessons God wants us to understand. Look at the verbs in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." What life-giving verbs! What a life-giving story.

Prayer: Thanks for the reminder, Lord, of how simple, yet powerful and complete is the Christian calling. Help me share the good news of your plan of salvation enacted 2000 years ago. I am in awe of what you did for me, for all of mankind, to save us from the errors of our ways.


  1. Sharon, I so enjoyed how you wove our two key themes--Writing and Faith--together into one inspiring posting.

    And what a great example of the use of strong verbs. I shall remember that church's bulletin board message!

    So glad you shared it with us.

  2. Thanks, Brenda. I have talked about my submission log and a few other business things before, so I went with faith and a writing angle.

    I am taking Ramona up on her offer for templates, as I am not good on this end of things. (As you are aware. . .) Writing Business is a good topic for the month, and I am appreciating what others have to say.

  3. Thank you. This is a great post, reminding me to live strong and to write strong.

  4. Thank you for your comments, Lorrie and Tracy.

  5. Thanks for this - brilliant reminder to keep those verbs active rather than passive. I have a tendency to use the passive ones a bit too much and your advice reminded me to go through this week's blog post draft and punch it up a bit!

  6. Anonymous4:16 pm GMT-7

    Thanks for your thoughts, Sharon.
    Good oiling for my "action" gear.


  7. I just thought of something when I read your article, Sharon. This would make a good revision tool - comb through our articles or stories, pull out the weak, passive verbs and replace them with strong ones. Thanks for the idea, Sharon!
    Pam Mytroen

  8. Thanks, Marcia, GW, and Pam for the later comments, which I missed somehow. Have you lately done any active writing using active verbs?


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.