Also check out my Twitter and Facebook pages!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the Frightening, Scary, Ugly, Hideous, Ruthless Adjective Monster

Picture Credit: http://www.search-best-cartoon.com/
This is one of the many hiccups I had when I started writing. Adjectives and adverbs make your writing descriptive, right? The answer is: not unless you use them correctly. For an exaggerated example, I'm guessing you got bored before you made it through the row of adjectives in the blog title. :)

Don't get me wrong, adjectives and adverbs have an important place in writing. But if you don't keep them under control they will eat up your pages and bury the good stuff.

Before I go on for too much longer, I'd better give a couple definitions.

Adjectives describe nouns (a person, place, thing, or idea).

Adverbs describe verbs (action words).

One excellent way to decide if you have a habit of using adjectives/adverbs too much is to print out a chapter and cross them out. Read the chapter without them. Does it make sense? Does the reader loose anything important? If the manuscript makes sense without some of the adjectives/adverbs and the reader doesn't loose any important understanding, you should seriously consider whether they should be there.

The important adjectives/adverbs should also be scrutinized to decide whether they could be removed by strengthening the word they are describing. For example, you can say that, "Carlos bolted out of the room" instead of using, "Carlos ran out of the room fast." Instead of saying that, "The day was hot," think about how your character reacts to the hot day and write his or her reactions. Then the reader will know that it is hot and they will learn it in a story-building way.

If you ever have multiple adjectives/adverbs in a row so that you need a comma to separate them, I would HIGHLY suggest you look at removing all but one.

To recap, adjectives/adverbs are NOT a sign of poor quality work. Every author uses them. But they can be easy to overuse if you're not careful.


  1. Yep, fallen for this one. Too many adjectives in one sentence is as easy to read as it is to eat an entire pizza in one bite. I'm guilty of doing this >__<

  2. Me too! You would die laughing if you saw some of my drafts from when I first decided to write a book. At that time I was certain that heavy use of adjectives would add to the story. That wasn't the only thing I was doing wrong by any means. But it was definitely one thing.