When I first ventured into the world of creative writing, one of my “mortal sins” involved an abundant use of passive voice and boring verbs, hyperbolic adjectives and taxing adverbs. Although I haven’t yet “arrived,” through participation in critique groups and reading about the art of writing, an important insight occurred to me: active verbs give life to prose and poetry. My earlier attempts to create character and description often fell flat.
Adverbs and adjectives are part of our language for a reason—to add color, texture and other artistic elements to our verbal armory, but discriminating use of these words peppered with verbs that rock do make a difference. While there is a role for telling and judicious use of passive voice, success lies in knowing how to balance our use of writing weapons.
Here are a couple of examples/definitions of what I’m trying to say:
Passive voice—when something is done to the object:
The child was bitten by a bee.
Active voice, the subject is the doer:
The bee bit the child.
And overuse of adjectives and adverbs:
The hefty pass-kicker adroitly kicked the ball between the goal post in spite of the blustery wind.
I’d like to share a poem posted by fellow poet, Jane Hewey on her blog:
Copyright: Jane Hewey
Glacial divides bypass
the dusty canyons thrusting
their will. Moons crawl
through midnights; I want
to touch your singular hurt,
wrap it with my hands
and light-soaked cloths.
I would warm it through
your thick white skin, force myself
into its cold-singe. I want
to evoke you out of the scar
like arctic char augured
from an eight inch ice hole.
Give some attention to the singular verbs and verb derivatives (such as gerunds) that Jane chose. She does use descriptors, but verbs add so much to the flow and strength of this poem.
For this week’s MTB prompt, please join us and write a poem incorporating a rich use of verbs. You may want to select one of your older poems that has never satisfied you and try to spice it us a bit. Maybe it’s heavy on adverbs and adjectives, even bordering on “purple prose.” Or you could grab a dictionary and discover a verb or two that’s new to you or one you’ve never used.
Here’s how to join in:
• Write your poem and post it on your blog or website;
• Copy and paste the direct URL to your poem on Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post, adding your name or identifier as he prompts you;
• Spend some time visiting the work of your fellow poets and leaving comments on their blogs—above all, return the favor to those who have made the effort to comment on your work
• Let the world know about dVerse by linking this post to your blog and social networks—invite a friend to join us as well;
• Above all, have fun; enjoy the creative moments.
For dVerse, I’m Victoria, thanking you for joining us this evening and happy to be your hostess tonight. I’ll make my way to your “table” sooner or later. Usually a bit later since I’m on the far end of the time zones!
And special thanks to Jane for allowing me to share her copyrighted poem. Do stop by her blog if you haven’t “met” her.