Bandits and Hitchhikers

Mark Twain advised, “When you catch an adjective, kill it.” Stephen King felt adverbs paved the road to Hell. He said he would shout it from the rooftops because, "The adjective is not your friend."

Adjectives, adverbs jump out like highwaymen to terrorize sentences and rob prose and poetry of direction and clarity. Adverbs clutter sentences and annoy the reader if they carry the same message as the verb: smiled happily, anguished totally frustrated, screamed loudly.

If you use a qualifier describe how. Show that he played badly. He squeaked the strings of his violin.

Adjectives hitchhike on nouns and restate known facts. The noun imparts the idea. The verb activates it. A verb propels a sentence, achieves pace, clarity and vigor.

flutter – dazzle- squash- swagger – pamper - roar

If one writes - She's a really beautiful woman. What does that show the reader?Describe a characteristic that reveals a concept of her beauty. Focus on the details of finger shape and grooming, how she plays the piano or uses her hands to caress a child. Follow her fingers through the day and choose details. As she laces her fingers around a coffee cup, the aroma and steam enliven her smile By describing her this way, physicality combines with an aspect of her personality.

Each time you find an adjective, ask why the noun needs enhancement. Could the noun by itself plus a verb energize the sentence? Do you need a metaphor or sensory image to capture the reader? Challenge your words.A comfortable chair - friendly chair? Chair hugs like a lover pushes the image. Delicate plant - Show the plant so the reader has an image.

An orchid withers without light and water. This might serve as a symbol to represent a character. What other plant name would provide the reader with an immediate connection?Bedazzled shadows – Shadows bedazzled by light. Shadows tinseled by light.

Chattering birds - Birds chatter (what less familiar verb could you use to give the reader another image?) Crows sound like castanets.Indian summer warmth - Indian summer means a warmth that interrupts the crisp in the air. What else can you write? Clumsy handwriting. Handwriting looks like a wren ran across the page.

The search for strong nouns and verbs never ends. Examine sentences and paragraphs for modifiers. Hunt and capture those highway robbers!

***Send me your sentences with qualifiers you adore. I'll help you handcuff and convince them to creativity instead of crime.