Sunday, January 3, 2016

A is for Adjectives

Ana is studying how big name romance authors string adjectives in descriptive narrative.

From Nora Roberts' 'Entranced':

"But he continued to avoid the the little yellow teddy bear sitting lonely on the long, empty sofa."

"He started to push her toward the door and found his face pressed against a beefy chest covered in a sweaty T-shirt that announced that its owner was A Hard Driving Man."

"It was tempting to give her one good pop on that damnably arrogant chin."

"For the second time that day, Mel knocked on the dull brown door, wiped her feet on the grass-green welcome mat with the white daisy in the corner."

From Jayne Ann Krentz's 'White Lies':

"He steered her toward a leather padded bar at one end of the long, spacious room, evidently unfazed by the covert glances and curious stares."

"A large, tiered ice sculpture with hollowed-out bowls held an assortment of cold hors d'oeuvres."

"This time a balding, overweight man dressed in a pair of plaid Bermuda shorts and an aging white T-shirt looked out."

"His body ached with the need to sheath himself inside her dark, wet heat but he forced himself to wait until she was twisting beneath him, until her soft pleas became sharp commands."


  1. I'm usually a fan of "less is more" and would tend to prefer one word over several. However, the pacing and flow of the sentence, as well as the voice, is important, so in some of the above cases (not all), I don't mind it. And at least the sentences are grammatically correct and well-written.

  2. I agree with Jen about 'less is more' and while I quite like some of these, I don't usually like a string of adjectives. One good one is better than several weak ones.

  3. I thought the Nora sentence with the welcome mat was overdone.

  4. I'm with everyone else in that less is better. I find the sentences with more adjectives far harder to read. It's not something I consciously do but I generally use only one adjective.

  5. It does help break up the monotony of almost rhythm-like sentences that are too similar, giving the writing a nice flow and fluency, but I have to agree that I think a few of these are over-done.

  6. This certainly makes me look at my own writing and I find I'm reading more carefully, watching how authors use words.