Goofing Around-4

I’m in love with verbs.  That’s where the action is.  Pure gold; gotta love ‘em.   So, just to be ornery, I decided to try writing a story without any.  It definitely took me to new territory—not my usual stomping grounds—so I felt encouraged by this contrarian exercise and wanted to share it with you.  Feel free to use all the nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc. you want, but no verbs!  Here’s mine.  You’re next. 


Story with No Verbs


Mussed sheets with two wide smears of blood.  Mattress halfway off bed.  Ripped blouse and wad of torn silk panties in a heap on the floor.  Lampshade askew.  The sound of running water in the next room—a shower—along with a warbled, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”  A fat wallet on the dresser, cash-heavy.  A travelling suit on a hanger.  Carry-on sized suitcase.  A man in an over-stuffed stuffed bedroom chair, eyes slightly open.  White button-down shirt, black knee-high socks, no pants.  Blood on chest around black leather hilt of knife.  “…never never know me.”

19 responses to “Goofing Around-4

  1. You just wrote a story spilling over with action, suspense, mystery, and emotion. Without verbs. How’d you do that?

  2. I’m in a topic rut at the moment so bare, er, I mean bear with me. Is this verbless?

    A cold cup of sugar and cream coffee. Plate of bagels and cream cheese. Lipstick encrusted cigarettes. Soft jazz music. Two empty stiletto heels. A run in a black seamed stocking. A black ribbed sleeveless turtleneck sweaterdress. A red corset on a chair. Gentle breeze. Flowing curtains. Little and lacy panties. Newly wed couple. Canceled dinner reservations.

  3. Little trickles of blood on my forehead.

    No verbs?

    Some Sweat. Lots of tears.

    No verbs?


    Useless, verb-filled sentences on

    absorbent, tear soaked,

    crumpled paper.

    What’s the use?


    Anyone there?


  4. Astonishing words. An invitation to me from a long ago friend. A friend and neighbor forty years ago, now in Boston. Tears of joy and warm anticipation within my heart. The trip–an unbelievable gift from Lynn to me. Thank you a million times, thank you.

    Late September, on an airplane from Wisconsin to autumn in New England. Beautiful colors of foliage at their peak intensity during three days at a mountain resort in northern New Hampshire. Next, the Fryeburg Fair in Maine and still warm home-made apple pie from a roadstand side.

    Hours in Lynn’s Jeep, side by side, rain on the windshield, songs on the radio. Rekindled friendship, smiles, laughter, more tears.

    Newport Mansions tours in Rhode Island, rich with marble and gilded bronze, morning ocean views from the upper loggias. Vanderbilt’s family money in lavish summer homes beside the ocean. Tours of the Breakers mansion and Marble House with overwhelmingly awesome extravagance and grandeur.

    My final evening in Boston: A twilight dinner cruise in Boston Harbor with the soft lights, the voice of a black woman and the accompanying instruments, delicious food and wine, amazing company of my friend.

    Thank you on my lips and in my heart forever, Lynn.

    Goodbye, Lynn.

  5. All stunning. Has anyone noticed, while doing this exercise, that adjectives are extremely close to being verbs themselves? Who knew? We explore these edges and find new knowledge. All new knowing is territory gained. I dislike boredom. I like learning new things. Shall we dance?

  6. Early morning, quiet morning
    Red and black checkered pajamas
    Oversized green sweatshirt
    Hair in face, moccasins on feet

    Writer Magazine, Writer Market
    Brenda Ueland, Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Berg
    Mottos, mantras, and quotes on bulletin board
    Cold, lumpy candle in window

    Black pens, blue pens, red pens. Pencils.
    Green tablet, purple tablet
    College rule, wide rule, no rule
    Dictionary, Thesaurus, Grammar handbook (somewhere)

    Little desk, swivel chair
    Fingers on keyboard
    Hot coffee, cold coffee, more coffee
    Puzzled face, muse amiss.

  7. Walk: nice sensual images. Kinda gives me something to daydream about this afternoon while I’m doing laundry….

    Shy: very clever with the blood, sweat, and tears tying this poem together. Writing can do that to a person. Strange that we volunteer to bleed, to sweat, and to cry. All for words.

    Shaddy: my goodness. I read your work and forgot to check for verbs. This is one of the most beautiful things you’ve written (from what I’ve had the privelege to read). What a wonderful event in your life to always remember. You are lucky to have a friend like Lynn. And she is lucky to have you. You brought that trip to life in my mind. Not just with the describing of places but with your emotion that you were feeling. What I’m trying to say is, you transferred your emotions to the page.

  8. Bouquets of roses at your feet. Deafening applause. Standing ovation. Undying admiration and envy. Unbelievable words, stories and images. Kudos! Pats on your backs and air-kisses on your cheeks. What writers!

    Oh, forget it. You guys are amazing and I’m not speaking to any of you anymore. I’m cringing and. slinking away in shame with the knowledge that I’m unworthy.

  9. Oh no you don’t, Shy. Be thankful your muse showed up to help you write a blunt, emotionally frustrating poem. I could really feel the emotion in that last word. Good word choice! I may have to borrow it sometime.

  10. It seems as though we were on similar wavelength for story ideas.

    Brown ball on a faded grass green mat. Parallel strips of daylight between vertical blinds. Soft leather chair flanked by strong black coffee and the early edition Vancouver Sun. Brown ball on a faded grass green mat. Black fleece shirt and pants, off-centre ponytail and grey wool socks. Not on Canada’s Top Model list. Brown ball on a faded grass green mat. New outfit with an empty coffee cup. Hand-me-down winter jacket with florescent orange sleeves and shoulders, feltpack boots to the knee, matching navy wool toque and mitts. Vacant faded grass green mat. Brown hound, tail high, eyes bright, nose at the back door.

  11. Ann,

    You are so right about adjectives being excellent substitutes for verbs in this challenge.

    Honestly, I found out quickly that I could express myself quite accurately without them. In fact, I believe my story is better without the usual flood of blatant action words. I sense the impact of my words is magnified because I wrote without using verbs as crutches.

    An invitation to dance? Why, yes. Yes, indeed. One moment, please, Ann.

    Sliding closet doors.
    Dancing slippers on the floor.
    Goody, goody.
    Out of my closet and onto my feet.
    First, tippy toes,
    Next big circles,
    Then small, fast, dizzying circles,
    Finally higher and higher
    Up to the sky and the clouds.
    That darn ceiling!

  12. Icy roads, careful drive, stunning scenery. Snow-blanketed volcanic peaks of Redoubt and Iliamna above the clouds. The Eagle Lady dead; hungry eagles. “Stormbird” at the dock. Frozen harbor ice-free. Ripples on the bay. Steel cleats on boots. Ice-covered trails. Raindrop dimples on the water. Chains on cart. No place like Halibut Cove. Unfamiliar computer. Ergonomic keyboard. Pent-up words. Frustrated muse.

  13. Dark eyes, almost black. Soft words, gentle hands. One. Warmth and comfort. Between May and September, too many years. Overwhelmed. Ill-considered words a chasm. Years of emptiness; decades of regret. Notes and letters. “Affectionate regards.” Death. Dreams of places non-existent. Dreams of long-lost love.

  14. Shaddy, Shy, Kathy H and Walk: y’all are amazing. Thanks for the inspiration.

  15. To Ann, Walk, Shy, KathyH and Summergoose,

    You all came through with shining examples of how we can write without verbs.

    We’re all winners because we’re learning and growing as writers.

    Winter is so much more tolerable with Ann keeping us busy. We’ve had 50 inches of snow this winter here in Wisconsin and I say bring on some more.

    I’m having fun with all of you and I hope you’re enjoying the ride too.

  16. These exercises are great, this one was a real learning experience. You guys never fail to amaze me with your writings.

    You can keep the snow up there with you Shaddy. I’m having fun without it.

  17. Canceled dinner reservations (invitation to imagine the filler!) Muse amiss (love that sound). Shit (can one encapsulate a feeling better than that?). Lips and hearts (body parts put to excellent use!) Not top models. (Who knew negatives could be so descriptive?) And ceilings too low. (We’ve all been to exactly that spot.)

    No cringing and slinking allowed! I make this stuff up (dross perhaps, how do I know–playing here in solitude?), but you guys turn it into gold. We all dive in, deciding it’s okay to be nuts, and finding that sense, that something even stronger than sense, surfaces. Whoop!

    Hey, if someone wants to suggest a GA-5 (it certainly doesn’t have to be me!), feel free to add it here, and I will move it to a more visible spot.

    Meanwhile, I will be mulling….

  18. Summergoose: I LOVE the cadence of your verbless story. The repetition of the brown ball on green mat and how that “brown ball” turns out to be your brown hound at the back door. I really love this. And going from full cup of coffee to an empty cup and the change of clothes. Very subtle progression. Wow! I am impressed.

    Gullible: I love both verbless stories. “Raindrop dimples on the water”–what a new and unique description and image.
    “Dark eyes, almost black…long lost love”. There’s a story in the making. Hits me right in the gut.

  19. Barbara Burris

    Hi all,

    I’m new and not sure the following is appropriate, but here goes:

    Clicking clocks, ticking, tocking, clocking our every movement, our every choice.
    Choices of colors.
    Choices of mates.
    Choices of dinner plates.
    Plates covering stains and wear.
    Wearing showing everywhere.
    Clicking clocks, slowing, knowing, our every moment, our every life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s