That’s No Moon. It’s Excessive Adjectives.

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…)

4 thoughts on “That’s No Moon. It’s Excessive Adjectives.

  1. Nancy M. Popovich

    I am in the process of editing a WIP and find myself guilty of those pesky, oh so easy to use adverbs. Thanks for the hint to use Word search for ly words. Your site is very nice. I am in the process of revamping my website to a cleaner look, somewhat like this.


  2. Lita Burke Post author

    Thanks for the compliments about the site.

    Adverbs and too many adjectives are the bane of my early drafts. The muse describes my story people and places in lists. *sigh*

    All is not lost when you must use multiple adjectives. I’ll talk about the magic dash in my next blog post.



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