Susan Cattaneo gives a lot of the same tips as Pat Pattison on choosing strong verbs (she’s also at Berklee), but has a nice twist on the next step.
Use your verb choice to unlock questions about the character (who), the progression of the scene (what) and the environment (where).
Below is an excerpt from American Songwriter “Susan Cattaneo’s Songwriting Course: Get In On The Action”
Strong Verbs (Verb Power) Leads To More Questions
by Susan Cattaneo (excerpt from American Songwriter)
Back to our sentence with the bland verb in it, let’s substitute in some other verbs instead of “walks”.
She glides into the room
She waltzes into the room
She dances into the room
What do these verbs tell us about her?
A woman who glides, waltzes and dances is graceful, feminine, delicate, coordinated. What does she look like now that we know these adjectives to describe her?
Now, let’s change it up:
She stomps into the room
She rages into the room
She storms into the room
Now, I’m seeing that she’s a force to be reckoned with. I see her with a red face and fists clenched. She’s angry about something. What?
Answering the “what” can lead you to some interesting turns in your song and help create new scenarios or an interesting avenue you hadn’t thought of originally.
More Verb Power Links:
Susan Cattaneo is a Boston-based singer-songwriter who can be found online at SusanCattaneo.com. Her music has been played on country and Americana radio in over 30 countries, and she recently was a regional finalist for the New Mountain Stage contest. In addition to her performing career, Susan has been teaching Songwriting at the Berklee College of Music for 15 years. @susancattaneo