Action verbs: James Rollins, the Rambo of writers


As writing instructors, we always tell students to write with more active verbs and fewer be verbs to keep the action flowing in the story. Nobody does this better then James Rollins, the Rambo of writers. Check out all these action verbs in this passage from his thriller The Doomsday Key.

She had started toward it when Gray grabbed her from behind and shouldered her back into one of the side cells. The others piled in, too. Gray covered her as a thunderous whump sounded that shook the walls and stones underfoot. A moment later, a wash of flames billowed past overhead, rolling smoke and reeking of poisonous chemicals. Gray shoved her back out of the shelter. She stumbled, deaf, eyes watering. Overhead, the helicopter swept past, swirling smoke and flames. A black steel barrel was rolled to the lip of the open hatch.

Oh, no …

Panicked, knowing what was coming, Rachel sprinted down the passageway, gasping in pain as she hurdled rocks and sections of tumbled wall. The arched opening gaped ten yards away. Focused on her goal, her heel landed on a moss-encrusted stone. Her foot slipped, and her leg twisted. She stumbled—but never hit the ground.

Gray scooped her around the waist and carried her the last few steps. They dove together through the archway. Bodies shoved into them from behind. They fell as a group, tripping, tumbling down the flight of stone steps. They landed in a pile at the bottom as the world exploded above them.

The blast, striking near the opening, immediately deafened them. Pressure slammed Rachel’s ears and felt like it cracked her skull. Rocks tumbled and bounced. Flames gusted down the throat of the stairwell, washing across the roof overhead. Her skin burned. Her lungs could draw no air.

Then in a rush, the pressure popped. The flames were sucked away, back out of the tunnel. Cool air drafted up.

Arches don’t just await, they gape. Ha.

It almost makes me tired reading it. Whew.

(c) 2009 by James Rollins





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