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Thread: Adjectives, how many?

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Adjectives, how many?

    When I started writing, I thought to be accurate, I'd use lots of adjectives. Figured they'd strengthen a piece. Instead, in many cases, they only served to weaken it. But then again, you know how writing is, it's pragmatic, and there may be cases where excessive adjectives actually help. Is the following an example?

    All Sold Out
    by
    Steven Hunley


    Again, a song rang out from the jukebox. It was the Rolling Stones; written when they were in their bad-boy period, tough attitude-towards-women-period, Brian Jones-is-about-to-leave-because-he’s getting-far-too-loaded-on-a regular-basis-and can’t-be-depended-upon-for-his-musical-genius period.

    Titled All Sold Out, it seemed to match Lawrence’s mood at the moment, as he scrolled through his limited vocabulary, searching for a word that accurately described his feelings.

    Besmirched, bewildered, betrayed, left-behind, abandoned, run-aground, sinking, suffocated, stepped-on, squashed, flattened, destroyed, obliterated. No matter the word, it would lack the power to accurately describe his pathetic condition.

    Every memory, every intimate conversation with his ex-lover was tainted, and left a bad taste in his mouth. The memory of each exquisite kiss, which when they were hundred of miles apart brought him sweet hours of solace, he wanted to spit out like venom.

    Larry's love had been sold out at discount, like a worthless piece of damaged goods.



    http://youtu.be/aiDLxsT3OpQ All Sold Out
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 07-08-2013 at 05:56 PM.

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    Good question, Steve. You've got me thinking of what the word "modifier" implies.

    The conventional wisdom is that a strong verb beats out a weak verb with an adverb every time. That notion likewise applies to strong nouns vs. weak nouns plus adjectives. Too many adjectives may also suggest that the prose is too dependent on forms of the verb "to be," or --you should excuse the expression-- "copulative" verbs.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    Good question, Steve. You've got me thinking of what the word "modifier" implies.

    The conventional wisdom is that a strong verb beats out a weak verb with an adverb every time. That notion likewise applies to strong nouns vs. weak nouns plus adjectives. Too many adjectives may also suggest that the prose is too dependent on forms of the verb "to be," or --you should excuse the expression-- "copulative" verbs.
    The numerous "modifiers" in the OP's 3rd paragraph seem to work OK, perhaps because they are directly derived from active verbs.

  4. #4
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    I see what you mean by weak and strong (and evocative) nouns and verbs. This is great stuff to consider.

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    Besmirched, bewildered, betrayed, left-behind, abandoned, run-aground, sinking, suffocated, stepped-on, squashed, flattened, destroyed, obliterated.
    The answer is a yes, also it reads like a list too, another no no.

    An interesting post, I think many of us have personal dislikes that stop us in our tracks
    My examples for what there worth are.
    Over embellishing every line in the misconception that by doing so makes for good poetry.
    Trying to impress the reader with home spun philosophy.
    Adding words such as Really, Big, Very, to adjectives to heighten their effect, just select the right adjective, it doesn’t need any help.
    References to the ‘soul’ mostly in love poems. I’ve searched my body for mine but no luck, but then perhaps I was born without one.
    And last for some reason any form of writing that contains the words ‘Azure Skies’

    I stress that the above is my personal dislikes and is not meant to be a comment in general terms. After all you may love a touch of garlic on your food but even the faintest wiff of the stuff well set me heading for the door.

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    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Bowler of Souls

    Azure skies
    Like boundless souls
    With really big eyes
    Mirrors and holes
    Holding our lies
    Yesterday's spuds
    Today's fries
    Amen
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  7. #7
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    A Poem So Nice
    I Posted It Twice

    Azure skies
    Like boundless souls
    With really big eyes
    Mirrors and holes
    Holding our lies
    Yesterday's spuds
    Today's fries
    Amen
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 12-01-2017 at 10:05 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    A Poem So Nice
    I Posted It Twice

    Azure skies
    Like boundless souls
    With really big eyes
    Mirrors and holes
    Holding our lies
    Yesterday's spuds
    Today's fries
    Amen
    How the hey did I miss this!! Too funny.
    When I started writing, I thought to be accurate, I'd use lots of adjectives. Figured they'd strengthen a piece. Instead, in many cases, they only served to weaken it. But then again, you know how writing is, it's pragmatic, and there may be cases where excessive adjectives actually help. Is the following an example?
    I think it is a good example.

    Makes me remember creative writing in the high school years -- our instructor declared that in order to write 'effectively' one must obtain a good thesaurus... I wondered how he ever became a creative writing instructor, but anyhow, that was a million years ago.
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

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    "The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible."

    That's one of V.S. Naipaul's seven rules for beginners.

    That being said, in my opinion there are no real rules for writing. You are free to go where you want in your writing, that is the great thing about it.

    The many adjectives in the above excerpt do not bother me. They rather make the reader feel just how puzzled and lost the character is. So, I'd say, go for it.

    Francis
    "Some things in life need solitude to thrive. Can only flourish in seclusion and loneliness. Without affection hushing and deceptively lulling them to sleep.

    The pursuit of dreams is such a thing."

    Tom Fitch - Intersection Diaries

  10. #10
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    This is good advice. The exact word, the precise word, may not need an adjective.

  11. #11
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I think it all depends of the function of the adjectives in the text:
    "Besmirched, bewildered, betrayed, left-behind, abandoned, run-aground, sinking, suffocated, stepped-on, squashed, flattened, destroyed, obliterated. No matter the word, it would lack the power to accurately describe his pathetic condition."
    I liked this paragraph, because the profusion of adjectives in the line above reinforces the lost and "pathetic condition" of the protagonist.

    Of course, there are bad writers who fill their texts with unnecessary and meaningless adjectives. The effect is that of excess of confetti on a birthday cake.

    Good writers follow their own rules, great writers maybe create new ones.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    This is great stuff to consider. Thankss..

    su yumuşatma cihazı

  13. #13
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    You're welcome!!

  14. #14
    Thanks for sharing. I see your point.

  15. #15
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    As many as necessary and as few as possible. Writing's easy.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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