A few weeks ago, I began a series of posts with words of wisdom from different authors. I ‘collect’ these whenever I come across them. I will share these with you – (my readers) for October and November as I work on my outline for NaNoWriMo, as well as teaching my class, ‘Mustang Patty Teaches Writing.’ I hope you find them as valuable as I do.
I am continuing to use the information I culled from Jerry Jenkin’s* writing class. He wrote a compelling article about editing, and today I would like to share what he has to say about adjectives.
‘Alright, another one: don’t be an adjectival maniac. Trust me, only unpublished creative writing teachers and your relatives like adjectives. Good writing consists of powerful nouns and verbs, not adjectives. Let me repeat that: good writing consists of powerful nouns and verbs, not adjectives. The right adjective can help, but one too many is always too many. The great writer Sol Stein says this about adjectives: One plus one equals one half. Meaning that you should choose the best of two because using two cuts the effectiveness in half. Whenever you’re tempted to use two adjectives, pick the better one so you don’t cut your power in half. That doesn’t mean never use an adjective—just always use the best one.’
As I edit and work with other writers, I notice that a lot of us DO go crazy with adjectives. It is as if in our attempt to ‘show rather than tell,’ we feel we have to describe every little detail
Try to incorporate this tidbit into your writing.
Until next time,
*Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American writer. He is best known for the Left Behind series, written for Tim LaHaye. en.wikipedia.org
Born: September 23, 1949 (age 72), Kalamazoo, Michigan