A good way to practice this is to make two lists. One list contains action verbs – not run, which is a general verb, but skip, or scamper, or dart, or lope – all specific kinds of running. A trick to picking good action verbs is to choose a profession – any profession – and ask yourself what this kind of person does. For instance – what does a boxer do? Well, a boxer thrusts, jabs, shuffles, weaves, bobs, and punches. Those are all action verbs. Or what does a psychiatrist do? A psychiatrist probes, nods, smiles, questions, listens, suggests. All action verbs. Or a dancer, or a chef, or a secretary -- you name it, and then tell what it does.
The other list contains specific nouns. They don’t have to be fancy nouns, in fact you can look around your living room or kitchen or office, and start naming things – but be sure they are specific nouns, not general ones. For instance, if you spot a tree outside your window, the noun you write down on your list is not “tree” – instead write down maple, or oak, or cedar. If you see your car in the driveway, the noun is not “car” – it’s jaguar, or SUV, or pick-up truck, or VW Beetle. Of course, you might also see your kitchen faucet, and the word “faucet” is specific enough for anyone.
Your lists can contain as many words as you like, but I usually aim for twenty. Don’t put your lists in any kind of order – in fact, it can be fun to put each word on its own little slip of paper and put it in a “verb pile” or “noun pile.” Then randomly pick out one verb and one noun and make a sentence. The sentence doesn’t have to make sense, but the noun must carry the action. For instance, if your noun is “rake” and your verb is “thrust”, the sentence should not be, “He thrust the rake into the pile of leaves.” Instead show the rake thrusting – “The rake thrust its prongs into the intruder.” Of course rakes do not thrust on their own, but your aim in this exercise is not necessarily to make sense, but to use common words in a new and different way.