115 Words for “walks”

February 7th, 2013 by

Movies are primarily a visual medium. Therefore as screenwriters, we need to think visually… and write visually. Take the verb “walks”:

He walks into the room.

She walks away from him.

How about these instead: amble, shuffle, staggers, paces, speeds, lurches, leaps, skips, bounds, sprints, stumbles. On and on and on, there are so many better, more active and visual verbs than “walks.”

GITS reader Alan Donahue was kind enough to put together this PDF: 115 Words for “walks”. You can download it here.

On your next script, take the advice of screenwriter Larry Ferguson (The Hunt for Red October):

“There was a girl who came to me with her first screenplay. It was a good first shot. I gave her some advice. I told her, ‘I want you to go home and take a yellow Marks-A-Lot and highlight every verb in this 120-page screenplay, and then I want you to read them out loud and ask yourself, Can I find a stronger verb.’ Characters should never enter. They should storm in, they should skulk in, they should tremble in. These are the only chances you have to create visual pictures in people’s brains.”

Thanks, Alan, for reminding us the English language is rich with vivid verbs.

Now if only someone could create a PDF with some worthy alternatives to the verb “looks”…

7 thoughts on “115 Words for “walks”

    1. Scott says:

      Zach, I fixed that link. Please let me know if you have any more problems with the download.

  1. SimAlex2000 says:

    I actually don’t have a problem with walks. I feel like you can really tell when someone is trying to use a verb that is interesting for the sake of interesting verb-use. It’s like, in journalism, you always just write, “so-and-so said.” never “so-and-so shouted,” or “so-and-so proclaimed.” it’s always just, “said.” it just works. Maybe walks is a little vanilla, but sometimes it just works. Maybe I’m thinking too much about this. :D

    1. Scott says:

      SimAlex2000, agreed. Sometimes “walks” is fine. And yes, in general if a word choice sticks out as the writer trying to show off, that can draw attention to the writer and away from the story.

      But… screenwriting is different than general writing or journalism. Our task is to be ENTERTAINING! So when William Goldman in his script “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” uses the verb “barrel-asses,” completely making it up, that should pretty much tell us all we need to know on the subject, especially coming from arguably the dean of contemporary American screenwriting.

      If we have the right to make up words to conjure up visuals, then we can pretty much do anything.

      Another point: The end point of journalism is a consumer reading an article or news piece, where they can be simply browsing the content. The end point of a screenwriter is a READER. And whether that reader is someone providing coverage or the head of a studio, it is up to us to get their attention and sustain it for 100 pages or so. Good visual writing using active verbs and vivid descriptors can go a long way in that regard.

  2. saranome says:

    [...] Go Into the Story: 115 Words for “walks” [...]

  3. [...] Be vivid. For a downloadable PDF list of 115 alternative words for ‘walk’ click HERE. The link will take you to the resourceful Scott Myers’ ‘GoIntoTheStory’ [...]

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