Day: April 16, 2015

#AtoZChallenge: N is for Nice… and other boring adjectives you can do without

A-Z Challenge

For the A-Z challenge, I am posting writing and editing tips to help you improve and enhance your writing.

N is for Nice… and other boring adjectives you can do without

Borat-VeryNice

In a past life I taught creative writing to children. I spent hours going on and on about adjectives, writing down example after example, and using the words to ‘improve’ boring sentences. Now I spend hours working with authors advising them to cut adjectives from their work to make it less boring.

Of course, in the case of the children the goal was to extend their vocabulary and to teach them about words. With my authors, the goal is to help them weed out all those things that drag their writing down.

Adjectives, as I have noted in other posts, should be used with caution. And broad adjectives shouldn’t be used at all (except in dialogue).

For example:

‘Her hair looked nice.’

This sentence tells us hardly anything at all. The word ‘nice’ is too broad; it’s incredibly vague. How nice does her hair look? We just don’t know. The same goes for fast, slow, happy, sad, beautiful, good, bad, big, little – you get the picture (but your readers won’t, if these are the words you use).

Sometimes we use these terms because they are almost automatic – we don’t even notice them. If you think you might be guilty of this, then try running a search for the offending term; you might be surprised how often one of these words crops up.

johnny nice

Any adjectives that you particularly hate? Do let me know by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

Letter M April A to Z Challenge #AtoZChallenge

For some reason WordPress wouldn’t let me reblog this yesterday so it’s a day late – but thanks to Rosie for featuring Matthew Hopkins for letter M of the AtoZChallenge.

Rosie Amber

Day 13 of the April A to Z Challenge, my theme is characters from books I’ve read, plus some audience participation.

Letter M is from Matthew Hopkins from The Black Hours by Alison Williams

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The Black Hours is a book that thinks about the actual lives of ordinary people who are mixed up in a period of history that is well publicised. Set in England around 1647, a time of Civil War and strong religious times. This book looks at the famous Witch Trials.

The author has interpreted some of the documented names and facts into a thoughtful story about the horrors of the period. We meet Alice Pendle and her Grandmother Maggie, wise women of Coggeshall who have used herbs and ointments to help and heal the villagers for years. When their midwifery skills result in the unfortunate death of a mother and child, people start to whisper.

Religious…

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