Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Writing Tip Tuesday

I've been reading Nobles' Book of Writing Blunders by William Noble and making a list of all the blunders I make.

Here's one:

Blunder #13: Don't add adverbs and adjective to prettify your prose.

My first thought was: Oh, I never do that.

But then I read this:

The key is, adjectives should be used only when they highlight something the noun can't highlight.
For example: He slipped into the darkened alley.
Not all alleys are dark, so now you know this one will be.

But suppose this had read: He slipped into the narrow alley.
Alleys are usually narrow (if they aren't narrow, they're called streets or road), so the adjective isn't telling any more than is offered by the noun. This is "prettifying" the prose, and it isn't pretty at all.

And that got me to thinking that I am guilty of that blunder from time to time.

Because I'm all about the rhythm of writing, I am guilty of inserting an adjective for the sake of rhythm and maybe doing more "prettifying" than I should.

Oh, how my blunder list continues to grow....

But THEN, the very next thing that happened was that I was reading an article about Emma Thompson in More Magazine.

And guess what?

The second sentence in that article was this:

"I had my heart broken there," she says as she strides down the narrow alley beside the tavern.

Ha! What are the odds?

So, that got me to thinking.....maybe prettifying your writing isn't such a blunder, after all.

I mean, maybe those extra adjectives serve to enhance the image, contribute to the rhythm, or just simply sound nice.

Is that really a blunder?

[Note: I realize that there is not one thing useful about this supposed tip. Consider it merely food for thought.]

1 comment:

Janet, said...

There are many rules and tips we are supposed to follow. But then you look at published books and see where people break these rules all the time. So, what's a person to do? I think that writers who have never been published (like me) maybe need to follow rules closer than the already established and published authors.