Killing adverbs and adjectives? A painful writing tip!

Ah those lovely adjectives and adverbs. I adore them, don’t you? Unfortunately, overusing the little darlings produces weak writing. Oh, I know. It pains me, too. Why wouldn’t we want to pepper our work with those lovely adjectives and adverbs that help our readers see exactly what we want them to? Problem is, they help a little too much. Excessive use of adjectives and adverbs slows down the story and, dare I say, bores the stuffing out of the reader. Consider the sentence below.

The tiny brown mouse with white whiskers and pink feet crawled slowly to the trap and hurriedly took the yellow cheese before he ran away.

Okay. I’m getting a picture of this mouse and the scenario, but it’s somewhat unnecessary. Most folks know what a mouse looks like and they will fill in their own mental picture. They don’t need a bunch of adjectives. What is required is strong verbs that stand alone without the aid of adverbs. Instead of took and ran, let’s try something stronger. How about snatched and skittered?

The wee mouse snatched the cheese and skittered away.

Can you visualize the scene? Did we convey the same mind movie in a more streamlined, elegant way that didn’t bore you? And we did it all with only one adjective and nary an adverb. In the words of Mark Twain, “If you see an adverb, kill it!” Thoughts? All comments get you entered in next week’s drawing for a Starbuck’s card. blog motivational

4 responses to this post.

  1. Nice, and your choice of words creates the character whose point of view we’re reading too.



  2. Yes, your way is much better. I have read books that have so much description in them that I start skimming over the words to get back to the story.



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