Bring on the verbs!

When we want to describe ourselves, we usually run straight for an adjective. We latch onto words like interesting, unique, exciting, innovative or – the usual culprits – award-winning and multi-disciplinary. But there’s not much conviction behind adjectives like this, unless you follow them up with something a bit more… well… interesting.

So today’s rallying cry is this: bring on the verbs! They’re the real movers and shakers of the writing world, and they do a lot of the real work of getting down to specifics.

I recently worked with IF_DO on their practice profile (they’re the kind of practice I love working with – they know exactly why they do what they do, and they’ve never lost sight of the things that first inspired them), and I’m struck now by the force of the verbs in this particular paragraph:

We’re quick to get down to detailed analysis and research. We question, test, explore and imagine. We sketch and make models. We’re happiest developing our ideas alongside ambitious clients, and we work collaboratively and openly. We listen to communities to make sure we understand what they need and what will work best for them. We make everyone a part of the process.

There’s immediacy, energy and action here. And it’s the verbs that are doing most of the work. If I wanted to give an example of ‘showing rather than telling’ (a mantra for serious writers everywhere), then this would be a good contender. It’s as if we’re seeing the IF_DO team at work, and we can work out for ourselves what kind of architects they are, without having to have it explained to us with a string of adjectives. Here’s the full IF_DO practice profile, in case you’re interested, and here they all are, above, looking celebratory in front of one they made earlier – the Dulwich Pavilion.

So bring on the verbs! They’ll keep things moving and give those well-worn adjectives a much-needed break.

If you want to hear about other things that do (and don’t) work on the page, you can listen to me talking to Rion Willard on the Business of Architecture UK podcast. Or if you want to talk to me about how verbs (and other words) might be able to help you, then get in touch here or give me a call.

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