I know what you’re thinking. Ouch. Self-editing. Boring! I’ll skim this blog, drop in a quick comment, and run.
Please don’t. Stick around. I have a surprise for you.
Each visitor who comments on this blog today or tomorrow will be entered in a drawing for an advanced reading copy of The Desert Hedge Murders.
All you have to do is write a simple sentence of at least ten words without using any adjectives or adverbs, and the sentence must create a picture with at least one color. Here’s an example (which you may not use): The cowboy tripped in a rut as he ran past the sunflowers his wife had planted by the corral.
Leave your sentence as a comment, and then you’re free to go. Please note that offensive entries will be disqualified, even if no adverbs and adjectives were used.
Simply stated, we don’t need to tell smart, intuitive readers everything. They will fill in the blanks as long as the blanks are not critical to your story. You can describe a protagonist (male) as 60ish with long black hair, bronze skin, and a leathery, weathered face, and the reader will know what your American Indian character looks like. But if you say he’s an Arapahoe elder, won’t the reader form a similar mental picture without all the extra words?
Not all adjectives and adverbs are bad, of course. In some cases, details are important to the story and may be clues or red herrings. In other cases, a character’s appearance might explain his odd behavior. Sometimes they’re needed to create a mood. Even so, use adverbs and adjectives carefully and be precise. Don’t use two or three when one will do the job.