If you want to inject energy and flair into your writing, turbocharge your verbs. Verbs perform the action in any piece of writing. They carry the story and provide the power. Slumping into lazy verb habits is very easy. As an undergraduate I got stuck on highlight: it seemed to fit almost any argument. I was like a workman reaching for the all-purpose tool that’s always ready to hand. But another tool, perhaps one tucked away in a dustier section of the toolbox, might work better.
And highlight has a precise meaning derived from painting, meaning drawing attention to an area of an image by making it the brightest part. So I shouldn’t have highlighted all my student ideas. I should have emphasised, underlined, stressed or exposed them – or even spotlit them, which is a different effect. It’s best to search for the right tool, and the right verb.
24 January 2018