Want loyal readers? Of course you do!
Difficult goal, though, isn't it? Even if you write only because you want to express your opinion, share secret family recipes, or keep your family updated on genealogy findings, whatever your reason for writing, you have to understand that some people may actually read your work. And by engaging them with insightful, entertaining, or instructive (and well written) material, you inspire them to return again and again.
But if your readers have to stagger through poorly constructed sentences filled with vague or ambiguous meanings, they will become irritated by the constant interruptions caused by having to reread what they just read. You want your readers to enjoy your writing, not to suffer through it, right? If you agree, you owe it to them (and to yourself) to provide writing that flows effortlessly.
If you've read through even a portion of the millions of blogs that are scattered throughout the Internet, you will notice that some of them are captivating, while others are so poorly written you cannot make it past the first sentence. Even if the topic is informative or entertaining, your patience wears thin. Many readers won't tolerate a poorly written blog – unless of course Mom wrote the blog and they feel obligated to read it.
So what's that one thing that will dramatically improve your writing and give you the best advantage in captivating an audience? Strong verbs!
To understand the importance of strong verbs, imagine that your blog (book or article) is a stream and that sentences are logs your must cross to get to the other side (the end). Now imagine your reader skimming from log to log across a mild stream. If your logs are smooth and tightly linked together, your readers will cross the stream effortlessly. If the path is mixed in with rocks and debris, if the logs are loosely woven, or if crashing waves send your readers into stormy weather, your readers will fall. Worse – they may never return.
Passive voice and extraneous words causes your readers to stumble over your words, whereas strong verbs anchor your sentences and permit readers to move through your work without falling off the b(log). Readers journey from one side of the stream to the other without losing a step, without having to backtrack, and without losing interest.
Strong verbs also polish your sentences and provide a slick read so readers don't have to wade through misconceptions to arrive at the point you are attempting to make. Strong verbs tell readers precisely what you want to convey. With precise verbs you don't have to decorate your sentences with lots of adjectives or adverbs – explicit verbs explain the action without equivocation.
Strong verbs also prevent passive voice from plaguing your work. Remember all those English classes that taught you to use Active Voice instead of Passive Voice? Those instructors were right. Active voice rids your sentences of extraneous words. Active voice takes your subject directly into action and allows readers to transition smoothly from sentence to sentence. Readers understand what you've written without having to wonder what you "meant" to say (unless the blog is humorous, in which case you might want to be ambiguous or vague).
To get a sense of the difference between active voice and passive voice (in case high school English class didn't pound the difference into your brain), look at the examples provided by the Writing Center at the University of Houston. Notice how much easier active voice reads compared to passive voice.
Another resource for precise verbs is Rice University (click this link).
And for more help in selecting that perfect verb (or any other word that sits on the tip of your tongue but that escapes your grasp), click MasterWriter – an Unbiased Review for "The most powerful suite of writing tools ever assembled in one program." (from MasterWriter)
Verbs Be Strong!
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