Thursday, February 28, 2013

Adjectives are a Splurge

Breakfast, photograph, descriptive, clear, hungry,
Okonomiyaki Pancakes
I have been told many times by editors not to overuse adjectives. Why? Adjectives are used to embellish nouns so why would using them be wrong? Well, if writers would use them like pepper so that they just accent the content, that would be one thing, but we don't. Today, I was watching a cooking show on the Food Network and realized that so many of the cooks describe their finished product with exaggerated adjectives, just because we can't taste or smell what they just finished. Can it be that everything is, "Oh My God, soooooo delish," as they stuff it into their mouths? I think not. I can just imagine the cooks spitting out the food as soon as the camera is off because it was too salty, or sweet.

I have an idea. Stop using so many adjectives and instead try leaving some of the nouns alone and let us imagine. If I say, fried egg - you can imagine it as maybe your mother made it instead of "incredible", or "unbelievable." Even if I just said, "eggs for breakfast," you would still imagine a certain kind of eggs that probably you like. I am sure we understand that lettuce is crunchy and that avocados are creamy, and so on...

What I am getting at is that when we write, I think that we should assume that the reader is intelligent and imaginative. It does take more work to make words interesting but I accept the challenge. The Guide to Grammar and Writing states, "Adjectives are frail; don't ask them to do more work than they should. Let your broad-shouldered verbs and nouns do the hard work of description."

Just my thinking on the subject....