Adjectives. In high school we are are taught of their wonder, told they add to the writing by giving details and description. We’re told that they are our friends and should be embraced.
Yet, as we enter into the world of publication, we learn otherwise. We spend an untold amount of hours editing that first novel, only to be told its weak because we embraced the adjective. In the publishing world these ‘ly’ words are frowned upon. They weaken our writing and we must use them sparingly if at all.
As writers, words are our greatest tool, our creative gift and our deepest bane. We strive for perfection, yet it’s always just out of reach. And as we dive into the world of publication we learn that most of what we thought we knew was wrong. To make ourselves stronger writers, we must forget everything we learned in high school.
But, we can’t just take out all our adjectives. We must construct stronger sentences and vivid descriptions without them. If we simply removed them all from our writing, we’d be left with dull text. It would be boring to read, even if the story is exquisite. And sometimes, this is difficult to do. Yet, if we are to get anywhere in the publishing world, we must try.
I can’t be sure why I thought to post this today. I guess it’s what flowed from my fingers pre-coffee. I’m not any type of publishing expert, except that I’ve spent hours upon hours searching the web for anything that would help me improve my writing. I’ve sat in on only one lecture on writing, talked one on one with the writer/speaker and that makes me far from an expert. Yet, one thing I do know beyond any shadow of a doubt, adjectives are not our friends anymore. A whole group of words are considered taboo.
As a lover of words this saddens me, as a writer it challenges me. I should go and reword my sentence here that contains that dreaded adjective. But I’ve only had half a cup of coffee, so I say, let it be.
On a side note, I have folders upon folders with all the information I’ve gathered over the years. If you find this layman’s take on the ins and outs of publishing rules helpful, let me know and I’ll gladly share with you what all I’ve learned.
Now write on writers of the world. Write on.