I recently put down a huge book. One of those literary-genre hybrids. You know, about zombies or werewolves, only written by someone with an MFA. I gave it 113 pages, but it wasn't pulling me in and I have probably 150 books in various teetering TBR piles around the house.
Still, the writing was good. Maybe a little too good, if that makes any sense.
The sky is clotted with clouds. Rain spits. Seagulls screech. The bay is walled off by fog. In the near distance the brown hills are only a hazy presence and the noise of traffic is only a vague growl as cars pour off the freeway and follow narrower roads that branch into parking ramps, rental lots, terminals. One of them, a black sedan with a silver grill, dips underground to the arrivals area at San Francisco International Airport, but it does not stop where the other cars stop, does not pull up to the curb and pop its trunk and click on its hazard lights. Instead it slides past the rest of the traffic, around the corner, to the bend in the road bordered by concrete walls, where it slows enough for the door to open and a man with a briefcase to step out and walk away without a parting word or backward glance.
I was struck by how the sentences grew longer and longer. And the author uses such muscular verbs: clot, spit, screech, growl, branch, dip, slide.... In this book,aA coffee pot never "sits" on the counter. Instead, it's much more likely to "squat."
She lands on all fours, rolling and thudding forward, sliding across the short expanse of lawn, smearing away the snow in a ragged teardrop to reveal the green grass beneath. A tree at the edge of the lawn offers a hammer blow to her chest. Her breath is gone. Her wrist blazes as if stabbed through with a hot poker. Glass bites at her. The night seems to close upon her for a moment—and then she draws in a sucking gasp.
The only problem with using verbs in new strong ways is that they stand out. Like "glass bites." In the paragraph before, "The glass shatters, and shards of it bite at her."
Even though I didn't get into the book, I want to make my own verbs stronger.