The Thinking Quill

One greets the assembled disciples.

Should it be that you are a lost soul, who has recently slipped into the back of the class in the hope of improving your limited literary endeavours, allow me to introduce myself. I am Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV, fondly referred to as IVy by my chums. The acclaimed author of that prodigiously enchanting science fantasy work ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’ which has been removed from the shelves on a temporary basis so it can return and be lauded as it truly deserves.

The end of summer is upon us and as harvests are gathered in I am once more returned to my writing room to reap the rich harvest of a summer gleaning inspiration from the very lap of the Muses in their homeland. Thus I was less than delighted to be disturbed whilst revisiting the profound passages of my previous literary highlights and admiring the lavish style, the graceful similes, the elegant turns of phrase and the superlative use of descriptive ornamentation.

It was, of course, my maternal parent who was well into her second admixture of Benedictine and Calvados. I knew that because the sickly smell of honeyed apples hung on her breath as she stuck her face into mine, muttering: “Why did I do it? What was I doing? How did I ever do something to deserve this?” Then, fuelled by alcohol and the disappointment she feels in her own sad little existence, she trailed off into a long-winded monologue in which I was unflatteringly compared to a chocolate teapot, a leadless pencil and other random objects.

Once I was again mercifully alone, the door bolted to avoid any further distractions, I realised Mumsie had unwittingly pointed out an area of English grammar that I have been remiss in bringing to the attention of my pupils. The ‘doing’ words.

How to Write Right  – Lesson 7. The Write Verb

Right class! Today we shall explore one of the backbones of any sentence. Indeed, that without which it is not a sentence at all.

Verbs are words which inform us of action. You all knew that of course, so I shall skip over asking for a show of hands and cut to the chase: how to choose the right verb for your sentence.

The important message I need you to take from today’s lesson is that any sentence can be instantly improved if you consider varying the verb. Truly. It can. Allow me to demonstrate briefly:

The stars shone.

Nothing wrong with that at all. It tells the reader the simple fact and they will absorb it and move on. But oh what a wasted opportunity! Instead of having the reader merely register the idea of the stars being there, doing what we all know stars do, you could have informed their imaginations with your creative genius (however small that might be) and awed them by your command of the depth of beauty in the language. Thus, thusly:

The stars blazed.
The stars lustred.
The stars scintillated.
The stars effervesced.
The stars coruscated.
You, by now, begin to assimilate the idea.

Thusly, my innocents, do not ‘walk’ but ‘promenade’. Never merely ‘jump’ when you can ‘frolic’. And remember, dear disciple mine, any noun can be enverbed to add to your treasure trove of possibilities:

The handsome young man entabled his firm buttocks, peachifying my day by his very beauty. (Voila mes crudités, deux pour le prix d’un)

And thus have we indeed ‘done’ the doing words.

Now go and try some out.

Until we next…

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

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