Revision Tip #9 – My Kingdom for a Verb

Does your draft have dialog that goes on for pages? Feels like a screenplay more than a novel?

You (or more accurately) your characters need some action: Verbs, my friends. You are in need of verbs.

Step 1: Choose a dialog-heavy scene.

Step 2: Brainstorm abut what kinds of actions the characters might be doing while they are having this conversation. F. ex., mom and son arguing at the grocery store about if he can borrow the car Friday night. Potential actions: picking out groceries (be specific!), checking labels, returning groceries to shelf (possibility for character development! Does this character go to the trouble of returning item where it belongs or not?), smelling squeezing, poking. More character development: are items neatly stacked in cart, or thrown in?

Step 3: Insert actions into dialog.

Step 4: See where you can trim dialog by allowing characters’ actions to speak louder than their words.

2 Replies to “Revision Tip #9 – My Kingdom for a Verb”

  1. Many thanks

    I finished NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and am loving your revision suggestions here. They are incredibly helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to post these things. I’m sure I’ll come back to these again and again as I continue polishing what I have written.


  2. I have the problem of writing too much and not enough dialog. Someone told me that if they made my book into a movie it would be a silent movie! Any suggestions on that?

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