WTT 6: Fancy, Amazing, Cool, and Unnecessary Adjectives ((ARCHIVED))


Writing Tip Tuesdays Chapter 6: Too Many Adjectives

(Hey, look, I’m on time this week!)

Adjectives are fun. In first grade, we learn we can use them to spice up a noun. Simply put, an adjective is a word that describes a thing. The thing is, a lot of new writers fall into the trap of using too many adjectives.

“The small grey mouse grabbed the yellow cheese.”

Pretty boring, huh? What if we used more interesting adjectives?

“The minuscule, dull-colored mouse grabbed the fulvous cheese.”

Sounds more interesting, right? And yet, it’s still wrong.  Let me put it this way: Picture a mouse in your head. What color is it? Probably grey, right, or a similar color . . . maybe white or brown? How about the size? Did you picture a mouse that’s ten feet tall? Probably not.

You see, useless adjectives don’t do much for a story. If anything, they make the writer seem like a smart-aleck who wants to flaunt their “impressive” vocabulary.

Don’t believe everything you hear in English class in elementary school. Too many adjectives–in storytelling terms–are really a pain to slog through.

Now say I wanted to say something like this:

“The ten-foot-tall purple mouse ate the moldy cheese.”

That creates a very different picture from what you first imagined, right? Without those adjectives, you wouldn’t see a giant purple mouse in your mind. Those adjectives are more necessary, since they drastically change the image.

Remember how I talked a few weeks ago about over describing characters and their clothing? It’s the same principal here. Your readers aren’t stupid (hopefully). They knew what a mouse looks like. You don’t have to call the movie theater screen “huge,” because I’m pretty sure they’re all huge. Your readers know that.

Also, don’t go using a bunch of adjectives that mean the same thing. Words like fantastic, amazing, wonderful, and awesome have virtually the exact same meaning. Pick one, not all of them. Your readers get the gist with just that.

So in short, don’t use adjectives unless you really need to. A few here and there to describe a shockingly beautiful sunset or an unusually large mouse, but definitely nothing your readers won’t know. Too many adjectives makes you looks lazy. Try finding a better noun before you use an adjective. There are plenty out there, I promise.

Go and write fewer adjectives, my beautiful, loyal, amazing, spectacular, fun, wonderful followers!


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