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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Writing Tip Wednesday--Adjectives

If you remember Schoolhouse Rock, you know a noun is a person, place, or thing. Adjectives help describe those people, places, and things. They can come before a noun (car), in the form of a single word (blue), or as an adjective phrase (that had a dent in its fender). The description provides the reader with enough information to visualize the nouns.

Example (*** indicate paragraph indentations):
***Gathering the scattered laundry from the ground, Jane toyed with idea of telling the tyrant laird of the clan to wash his own damned plaids. She might be stranded in his drafty castle, but he had no right to treat her like a common wench.
***A quick check of her pocket made her lips twitch in an anticipatory smile. She'd have plenty of time to escape after she crumbled the few leaves in his stew. "You just wait until the evening meal, Callum MacDougall. You'll be sorry you ever laid eyes on Lady Jane Eastwood."

Here's how the example would read without any adjectives:
***Gathering the laundry from the ground, Jane toyed with telling the laird to wash his plaids. She might be stranded in his castle, but he had no right to treat her like a wench.
***A check made her lips twitch in a smile. She'd have time to escape after she crumbled leaves in his stew. "You just wait until the meal, Callum MacDougall. You'll be sorry you ever laid eyes on Lady Jane Eastwood."

Taking out all the adjectives and adjective phrases makes the scene flat, but can you add too many?

***Gathering the scattered laundry from the ground where she'd laid them to dry, Jane toyed with idea of telling the tyrant laird of MacDougall clan to wash his own damned soiled plaids that he wore as kilts. She might be stranded in his drafty, falling-down castle, but he had no right to treat her like a common serving wench of questionable parentage.
***A quick check of her deep, front skirt pocket made her chapped lips twitch in an anticipatory smile. She'd have plenty of time to escape after she crumbled a few dried foxglove leaves in his rabbit and turnip stew. "You just wait until the poisoned evening meal, Callum MacDougall. You'll be sorry you ever laid your pretty blue eyes on Lady Jane Eastwood."

Hmm, I think we need a shovel to get through that scene. A good rule to remember--Unless a specific noun is vital to the plot, don't over-describe. Moderation again...

Contractions are on the agenda for next week. Write, write, write!

Now I'm off to work on the last few chapters of book one in my foodie contemporary series...or chapter four of book two :)

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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