Adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing in the sentence. WAIT! Let me repeat that… adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing in the sentence. You know something interesting? Despite having repeated it twice here and a zillion times in school, there will still be writers who get it wrong.
The fat professor, the lugubrious lieutenant, a rock-solid commitment, a month’s pay, a six-year-old child, the unhappiest, richest man; these are all great examples of how adjectives are used. So why then do some writers either over use them or just plain don’t use them correctly at all? When I was a kid I hated English. (come on all your writers…admit it…you did too….) But Adjectives were easy…they were the one way I could assure that I didn’t completely bomb a test. (I hate Adverbs by the way)
Some adjective mistakes that writers make:
- Relying on adjectives and adverbs to cover up a weak scene
- Over using adjectives
- Under using adjectives
- Not everything you write needs to be described in intricate detail
- Using adjectives within dialogue – i.e. “I told him that her bright colored dress matched her dreamy eyes.”
These are just a few of the ways writers goof around with adjectives and I am sure that some of you can come up with even more examples. The point is, adjective use is writing 101, if you think that you need a refresher course…you probably do. I understand the temptation, I enjoy describing stuff too but you don’t want your reader to get into your book and have their minds filled so full of adjectives that they can’t think. (or enjoy reading your book)
Once in a while it is a “dark, stormy night” but at other times you can “hear the crack of thunder and feel the sting of the rain as she felt her way through the unseen world of night”….it all depends on what works and if it belongs. Adjectives are fun…I get that…but they can get away from you too. In the future be mindful of how you use adjectives and remember, sometimes you really can say more, with less.
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