Pith from Rebecca

Look closely: you will find pith here.

If your nouns and verbs can do the work, let them.  You’ll have little need for adjectives and adverbs.

(p.s. It’s a shame I can’t–or won’t–follow this advice.  I just tried that exercise where you take a page of your work and banish all adjectives and adverbs.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it wasn’t as good as I’d hope.  Some things made no sense without the adjectives.  Worth trying, though, and worth keeping in mind as I write.)

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7 responses to “Pith from Rebecca

  1. Perhaps that’s a bit too arbitrary. I like the way you can see a writer evolve, and part of that is becoming cleaner and more crystalline for many writers. But it just happens over time, I think, and the change over time is interesting.

  2. Marly, I agree–it’s very arbitrary. And for many cases, really inappropriate. But I do like seeing how much muscle my nouns and verbs have, or how flabby they are. And if this is even a rule, it’s broken, often, to good or great effect.

  3. Well, that’s what writing rules are for, isn’t it–breaking with style!

  4. I sure hope so! But I have too much regard for the rules. I need more experience and a sense of humor.

  5. If your nouns and verbs can do the work, let them. You’ll have little need for adjectives and adverbs.

    Where did that “rule” come from? Of all the silly rules out there (did you know you can’t buy hard liquor in MA on a Sunday??), that would be in my Top 10. Then again, I do have an (excessive) love for the superficial.

  6. Arden, I don’t know where that rule originally came from, but it’s a stylistic choice, for sure. Some writers would and do rail against it on purpose, I’m sure. But there’s a ton of “bad” writing (I’m talking fiction here, not more casual or general descriptive communication, like emails, blogs, FB posts, bless their little hearts) that overuses these parts of speech. Or at least depends on them too much. In my (and apparently others’) “humble” opinion. Now I have to find out where this rule came from!

  7. Okay, I found this, which does not talk about where the rule came from, but it does show some differences in the ways of communicating a basic scene. I think the third example is kinda bad, too, but at least it does paint a picture. One thing that a lot of beginning writers do is to include details (about what a character looks like, for instance) that aren’t important to the story. It’s good for a writer to know what the character looks like, but usually, unless it’s important for the story, there are more interesting ways of showing the character as a person than hair color and details you’d find on a drivers license. You probably already know this, and I’m sure I’m on about it because it’s a soap box that I get on a lot. Anyway, here is the post, maybe worth a glance: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/78758/kill_adjectives_and_adverbs_descriptive.html?cat=9

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