Monday, March 15, 2010

Connecting With Your Reader - Part Two

Today I want to share how to connect better with your reader through your choice of words. Study these examples of how choosing active verbs and specific nouns makes a huge difference—whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

Example #1

The scent was fresh and new like a flower after the rain.

Verb choice - was
Noun choice – flower

This sentence isn’t bad, but it could be great. The writer is employing a technique called telling.

Example #2

The fresh scent hung in the air like a late blooming rose after the rain.

Verb choice – hung
Noun choice – rose (specifically a late blooming rose)

This sentence is great because it doesn’t tell us about the smell, distancing us from it. Instead, the writer invites us to remember a smell through a technique called showing.

Whether you're writing a story or an article, example #2 would be a better choice because it draws the reader in and invites them to experience what is happening.

Let’s look at two more examples.

Example #3

Susan felt restless.

Verb choice – felt
Noun choice – Susan

Again, the writer is telling us how Susan felt.

Example #4

Susan paced across the floor, wearing a pattern in the dust.

Verb choice – paced, wearing
Noun choice – Susan, floor, dust

Can you see the difference? The writer is again pulling us in with word pictures, showing us the action.
This week, look for places you can make your own writing more vibrant through active verbs and specific nouns!

Note: Telling isn't always bad. There are times when telling is better than showing. You should use telling when the action isn’t important or when it’s a common action that doesn’t need emphasis.

Now it’s your turn. Post a comment with this sentence rewritten.

Austin felt sad.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Great advice! Keep up the good work!

  2. Austin dropped to his knees, overwhelmed with the news of his mother's passing.

  3. Good start Alycia! I like the thought you put into the moment. That sentence does a good job of showing.

    Let's take it one step further and show all the emotions, instead of naming them. What if you took out 'overwhelmed' and said:

    Austin dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands upon hearing of his mother's death.