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Getting rid of those pesky adjectives in your writing

December 8, 2015

I like the second one better. It conveys more about the character. It’s easier to picture a cunning grin as opposed to the blank “cunningly” which could be a leer, titled head, side glance, or smile. For me, the action changes how I see the character.

Matthew Wright

Ever been caught by your writing taking on a life of its own? Words not coming out the way you want, adjectives slipping in and -ly endings abounding?

Wright_Hobbiton4You’re not alone. It’s a common problem, especially near the beginning of the learning curve. And yes, writing is a learned skill like any other. It takes as much practise to get good at it as it does to become a concert pianist.

I often think one of the hallmarks is the way writers inevitably seem to drop adjectives as their experience increases. This steady de-purpling is fairly standard progression for writers as they learn, and one of the reasons why it happens is that the writer is more comfortable with the expression of the scene in their own minds. It isn’t necessary to qualify every detail with an adjective in order to feel they’ve properly conveyed it for the reader.


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