90 Words for “looks”

February 26th, 2013 by

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

He looks at the body.

She looks at the rainbow.

How about these instead: ogles, gapes, stares, gawks, squints, spies, inspects, surveys, peeks, peers. On and on and on, there are so many better, more descriptive and visual verbs than “looks.”

GITS reader Alan Donahue was kind enough to put together this PDF: 90 Words for “looks”. 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.

For 115 Words for “walks,” go here.

5 thoughts on “90 Words for “looks”

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    Good related tools include Word and Phrase Frequency Counters. “Sprint” might be a good alternative to “run”, and “glower” might describe the very look on your character’s face, but if either one pops up a dozen times in your script, especially to describe different characters each time, you’ve discovered a new problem.

  2. TheQuietAct says:

    Thanks to Alan Donohue for compiling these? Just wondering Alan do you have more lists?

  3. […] 90 Words for “looks” (gointothestory.blcklst.com) […]

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