Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Adjectives: How not to use them in Creative Writing

We have learned in school that adjectives are words that refer to qualities of people, things or ideas.

Eg: A red pen
      A fast car

We all had a great time classifying them into absolute, comparative and superlative adjectives. 

Hard                      harder                 hardest

It was fun.

However, when it comes to creative writing, editors often consider adjectives as annoying. If you have too many of them in your work, they may call it lame and reject it.

Consider this quote by John Green from his novel, Looking for Alaska.
Image Source

Beautiful, isn't it? Now let me add some adjectives to it and cook it a little more.

“So I walked back to my dingy room and collapsed on the unkempt bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was a light rain and she was a severe tropical cyclone.” 

I have killed the beauty of it, haven’t I? The dish is spoiled completely. However, why? The meaning hasn't changed at all.

  • ·         Dingy means gloomy and drab. The room might have appeared as gloomy to the narrator.

  • ·         Unkempt bottom bunk, as it usually is.
  • ·         A drizzle is a light rain.
  • ·         Hurricane is a severe tropical cyclone.

Now I believe, you have understood what I was trying to prove. This is what happens when we use adjectives without using our brain. When I added a few adjectives, the beauty of the quote diminished. The prose is no longer tight and appealing to the reader.

 “So I walked back to my dingy room and collapsed on the unkempt bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was a light rain drizzle and she was a severe tropical cyclone hurricane.” 

Now when I remove the redundant adjectives and replace the weak adjectives with its stronger cousin, the quote regains its splendour.

Listen to what Mark Twain has to say:
Image Source

Now friends, take a paragraph of your work in progress and try to weed out these troublemakers.

Have a Good Day folks.

This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge


  1. A very informative post! I'm looking forward to a lot of tips to improve my writing skills here :)

  2. Oh yeah informative indeed. I would keep coming back for more :)

    Kudos to you Preethi, for taking up this challenge for both your blogs :)

  3. Thank you Soumya. Hope I will be able to cope up with the pressure. :)

  4. Tips to write by. Thanks!

  5. Great illustration.

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you.


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