Setting (2)

Describing a place might seem easy, but there are pitfalls that you should be aware of. For instance, student writers often write sentences such as these:

What makes these sentences dull is the over-reliance on the linking verb "is". Linking verbs are considered weak, and such sentences can often be improved by replacing them with stronger verbs (and personifying the subject, if necessary).

In the opening chapter of The Greatest Salesman in the World, the author, Og Mandino, skillfully uses strong verbs to describe Hafid's palace:

Tortise shell gleamed from couches and divans, and the wall, inlaid with gems, shimmered with brocades of the most painstaking design. Huge palms grew placidly in bronze vessels framing a fountain of alabaster nymphs while flower boxes, encrused with gems, competed with their contents for attention. No visitor to Hafid's palace could doubt that he was, indeed, a person of great wealth.


Here are some more examples, taken from a random page by one of my favorite authors, Robert E. Howard:

  • Giant trees hemmed in the small pool . . .
  • The trunks of trees crowded the cliff . . . .
  • Dead leaves carpeted the rocky shelf . . .
  • The rolling green ocean stretched away . . .
  • The forest thinned out and ceased abruptly, giving way to a dotted plain.
  • The walls of a city rose skyward.
  • Trees spread their leaves overhead.


Instructions for the Quiz

Complete each sentence by choosing the stronger verb. (In other words, do NOT choose the linking verb).

Linking Verbs

  • is
  • am
  • are
  • was
  • were