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  • Quacky Verbs

     Kayla-Oppenheimer updated 5 months, 2 weeks ago 14 Members · 19 Posts
  • HappiWriter

    June 9, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Random question: do you think it’s good to use interesting or quacky verbs in writing? (or adjectives, too, for that matter)
    On one hand, it adds vibrance and interest. On the other, does it get the reader distracted with the wording and take away from the broader picture?
    I’m of the first opinion — but maybe not… ;(
    What’s your opinion?

  • Anagrammer

    June 9, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    From what I remember, “Vivid Verbs” and “Strong Adjectives” were two requirements on many of my writing assignments through upper elementary and high school. It seems necessary to me! (My 8th grade teacher used to put checks on top of each word she liked and dashes were it could have been more vivid. The quackier, the more points!) Obviously overuse can be silly and distracting, but I’m all for vibrancy.

    And reading, do I find myself getting distracted? Well, maybe, but only in a good way… because my writer-mind gravitates towards words, and I like to savor the descriptive terms, the juicier the better.

  • HappiWriter

    June 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    LOL! You’re reminding me of my 7th grade sister’s “descriptive” writing. There were about five adjectives for every noun 🙂

  • Brocha

    June 9, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    I love twisting words. My copy editor doesn’t. She wins most of the time.

    She says Grammar is Grammar.

    Perhaps. But writing is Art in my opinion.

  • Sury

    June 9, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I think using ‘quacky’ verbs and adjectives to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind is what writing needs to make it appealing. When I read a novel, there’s always a image of the scene in my mind, so the more vibrance and descriptive words, the better the story illustrates itself in my head.

    Overuse of vivid language, however, is indeed a distraction to the reader. There’s a certain balance that needs to be figured out.

  • Anagrammer

    June 10, 2020 at 12:59 am

    HappiWriter, I was half-joking, but also pretty serious over there 😉

  • Elisheva Halle

    June 10, 2020 at 1:16 am

    I once read advice from a famous author ‘don’t let your writing get in the way of your message’. I tried it for a while, and cut back on using flowery language, but I noticed I felt stiff while I was writing and it became less fun…I realized that in order to write something others would enjoy, I have to enjoy the writing process myself! I think there are audiences for different types of writing…like for some people, vivid verbs and adjectives would be annoying since they are only interested in the story, but some people, like fans of literary fiction, the more the merrier! They are coming for the reading experience as well.

    Hope that helps!

  • StoryLuver

    June 10, 2020 at 2:06 am

    Pacing is key. Use flowery language during an emotional, serene, or contemplative moment, but the second the stakes get amped and adrenaline runs high and your character is running for his life, you just have to slam down those descriptions in the fewest syllables possible.

    This is why I don’t always like literary fiction, because parts were happening in slo-mo. If a scene takes forty seconds to happen, you can’t spend a whole page describing it.

    Vivid imagery is appreciated by all readers, the trick is laying it down in a digestible way.

  • Fiction Fangirl

    June 10, 2020 at 2:09 am

    Depends on the context of what you’re writing.  I say approach with caution.  Don’t overladen your historical or contemporary drama with purple prose.  Readers get turned off from melodrama (me being one of them).  Don’t go overboard with quirky or goofy expressions when writing comedy or you’ll come across as trying too hard, or worse- being corny.  But adding texture to your writing?  I’m all in.

  • Esther Kurtz

    June 10, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    I try to follow Mark Twain’s advice of  “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.”

    To write strong sentences you need to focus on the verb – the motor of the sentence. I stress this to my students, because then they don’t have to rely on limp adjectives.

    Re flowery writing – I hate it. Most often it’s distracting fluff. A well chosen description, a perfectly worded turn of phrase is wonderful, but writing that’s written the emotional energy of a swooning Victorian lady is not my cup of tea.

    Also Elisheva, literary fiction is not more descriptive writing. It’s about delving into the human condition and is not pegged for a particular genre like Mystery, Sci-Fi, Romance – each of which has it’s own general structure and guidelines.

  • MJ

    June 10, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Personal unprofessional option, just from my experience reading, Stories need to start with facts and emotions.. I like getting to know the characters in the first chapter… when the first chapter is just description of the weather and setting.. it turns me off.. Am I the only one….

    Later, once I am part of the novel, or short story.. then the adjectives are like dessert.

  • Esther

    June 10, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Putting in my 2 cents –

    I think that each writer has the luxury of developing a style, which could include an original way with word-isms and poetic license, if you will, to set her writing apart.  I even think this is ideal.  But adding more quirks and floweriness on top of that, might be a bit much.

    And we should all stay true to ourselves, not use language that doesn’t resonate with us, even if others use it.  (Not talking hashkafically, that’s something else.)

    At the end of the day, we need variety.  There are all different types of readers out there, there need to be all dif types of writers too.

    (And I’m all for interesting vocab – I personally am allergic to using the same form of a word twice too close together unnecessarily.  Go find a thesaurus!)

  • Leahle

    June 10, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    I totally agree with you, StoryLuver!!

    “Vivid imagery is appreciated by all readers, the trick is laying it down in a digestible way”

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    June 10, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    I once wrote a poem with a words that might have been understandable, but not commonly used and  imagery  that one had to twist one’s mind to figure out what I was talking about.

    This was the poem I wrote for the assignment:

    Sardonic, volatile waves of anger
    spewing out volcanic cynicism,
    cling to him like a second skin
    bushy eyebrows survey the world
    small fish darting haphazardly escaping; at times lulled by
    the tantalizing bait of superiority he slowly lets down
    fools society with intelligence – fangs of poison,
    sows seeds of disenchantment,
    skin deep perspective, shallow, hollow, no substance;
    smooth talker – slippery like an eel
    black and white straight and narrow type of guy
    tows the party line, you surmise,
    swooping down enmeshing you
    dripping with charisma
    deceit and treachery tools of his trade

    And this was the poetry teacher’s response more or less, which I think is an interesting take on using language that one’s brain is twisted to figure out what an earth the writer is conveying.

    Words can be eloquent and pretty. If I need to translate a word (in my mind) then I must stop reading the poem, recall the definition, put it into context and read it again. If I have to look it up, I may not come back to the poem. You can use everyday words in an eloquent way.  You have lost me half way through the poem here. I love flexing my vocabulary but I won’t use more than one word that will possibly go over their head. If you want to introduce an odd word, then make sure that the rest of the thought or sentence can support it”


  • StoryLuver

    June 10, 2020 at 9:31 pm


    I understand the meaning of every word you wrote here, yet I’m still discombobulated by it, for some reason. It must be more the allegory than the vocabulary itself, but I’m not quite sure.

    Very very colorful and mind-bending,  that’s for sure.

    “Tows the party line”- that would be toes, as in “she always toed the line”.

  • Word Warrior

    June 10, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    Wow. Great conversation, I love this! I agree with those who said, less is more.

    The end.

    Haha. No, seriously. When you walk into a party (or a kiddush, hi), what’s the first thing you notice? If you don’t know anyone there, maybe you notice how many people there are, how much food there is, how awkward it will be to eat when you don’t know people, what you’re wearing, what everyone else is wearing, gosh those chandeliers must have cost a fortune, who was the caterer, why are all these kids in matching bowties screaming, no one is talking to me, my face is bright red, my hair/shaitel is all sweaty and why did I ever come here?

    The bottom line? Awkward.

    But when you walk into a party (or a kiddush, helloooo), and the first thing you notice is your best friend? Boom. The details are just a blur- you’re talking, eating that cake, loving her dress, hanging out, having a great time, despite the noise, the chandeliers, and your hair situation is irrelevant.

    The bottom line? 100% engaged.

    I guess it’s like that with my reading experience, too. I wanna jump into your book, like its my best friend. I want to enjoy the cake, the lighting and the ambience, but that’s not why I’m there. I ‘m there to have a great time, not to wonder why I ever came in the first place. I want to feel invited, familiar, engaged.

    I guess I’m saying, show, don’t tell 🙂 bring me in and let the surroundings speak for themselves

  • Anagrammer

    June 11, 2020 at 3:49 am

    Word Warrior, nicely expressed. Easier said than done, no? Maybe it’s just me :). As a reader, though, I do love the ‘cake, lighting, and ambiance’. I have a weakness for wording. I appreciate each detail, sometimes more than the experience as a whole.

  • Esti G

    June 12, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    My opinion:

    Strong verbs–yes! Extra points for that.

    Adjectives–skip. They limit the readers’ imagination.

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    June 12, 2020 at 9:46 pm


    I understand the meaning of every word you wrote here, yet I’m still discombobulated by it, for some reason. It must be more the allegory than the vocabulary itself, but I’m not quite sure.

    Very very colorful and mind-bending,  that’s for sure.

    “Tows the party line”- that would be toes, as in “she always toed the line””.

    Yes, @StoryLuver, that’s exactly what I was trying to express, discombobulated – and that’s what the teacher meant, if you have to turn around the words in your brain, so that it all seems a bit fuzzy.

    Thanks for the “toed the line”, that makes more sense thee “towed”. I had to work on that poem another 2 drafts until the teacher was happy with it.

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