Describe ALL the Things!
Every adjective needs a noun, but not every noun needs an adjective. Or something. It is indeed not a truth universally acknowledged that a powerful noun, object, thing is in need of some equally powerful, poignant, cheesy modifier.
We’re all guilty.
That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.
Dear Writing All Wrong:
I know that you sometimes review writing, and you’re pribably [sic] going to make fun of me for it. That’s OK though, because I don’t think you get a lot of emails because people think you’re too mean. That’s also OK, because you’ll probably point out something I should be working on anyway. Anyway, here’s the first couple of chapters of my book, Unfinished Dawn.
[CHAPTERS REDACTED] (sorry.)
—Jeremy Stark, Westerville, Ohio.
You’re absolutely right. I’ll make fun of you. I am too mean. I don’t get a lot of email. And I’ll point out things you should be working on anyway. Like adjectives and modifiers.
“coiled, razor-sharp, Concertina wire” — Glad you cleared up the confusion here, since Concertina wire comes in a “fluffy bunny” variety.
“smoldering remains and scattered ruins” — Other than ‘and,’ the rest of these words can go.
“He peered grimly through the charcoal ichor of foglike black ephemera.” — This sounds like what a chimney sweep would write about himself to make his work seem interesting.
“He was heavily armed with an AA-12 Automatic shotgun, a potent pair of Glock G26 9mm subcompact pistols, M67 fragmentations grenades strung together like cloves of garlic on his sash, and a custom-designed IMI Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle.” — Too many numbers, clumsy mixed metaphors, weak modifiers (“custom-designed?”). Are you writing gun-owner fanfic here, or are you going to include a copy of Solider of Fortune for reference?
“The now-cool black clouds of night’s closing pages were turned by the warm, gentle fingers of amberlike dawn’s eager arrival.” — There’s a word for this: sunrise. Use that.
If you’re doing more describing than you are writing, you’re doing it wrong.
Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).