The best part of writing is describing story people and their world. They talk to me and I write down their words: the breezes cool the sweat from my face, garments are satin against my skin, and frying griddle cakes slow me when I walk by their favorite breakfast spots. To bare all in this blog, I now admit…brace yourself…I enjoy reading (and writing) delicious adjectives. Just don’t give me too many at once. Let’s look at some examples:
Bad: She was a blond flirt and a clear-skinned, blue-eyed, girl-next-door, wholesome beauty. Better: The astronaut removed the mirrored helmet, tossed her head to clear blond bangs from a flawless face, and flashed baby-blues.
Bad: The Death Star was huge, gray, lurking, evil, and dimpled like a moon. Better: Laser cannons dimpled the space station’s drab surface. Luke mistook the monstrosity for a small moon.
Bad: Doctor McCoy’s response was full of illogical, long-winded, whiny, and judgmental scolding. Better: McCoy let loose an emotive scolding. Spock arched an eyebrow.
Strings of adjectives dilute the description. I also put too many adjectives in my own first drafts. When I clean up, I use the best one and cut the rest. Sometimes a strong verb hides as an adjective (see dimpled in the second example). See my earlier post about adverbs for more about the advantages of using strong verbs.
Beware of excessive
, pesky, tenacious, scruffy-looking, and stinky adjectives. (See? take ‘em out…)