One of the trends in written English over the last century or so has been the drive to strip adjectives from fiction.
It came out of journalism during the first years of the twentieth century and was made an art form by novellists such as Ernest Hemingway, whose plain-vanilla prose effectively defined the voice of modernism – of art deco.
Why does it work? Because if done right it forces the reader to think. Prose without adjectives is more likely to ‘show’; adjectives are a ‘telling’ word. And ‘showing’ is where it’s at, these days.
Stripping adjectives also helps remove –ly words from your writing. Words like ‘longingly’, ‘tellingly’, and so on – all of which are the assassins of active voice.
Active is also where it’s at, these days – and don’t forget, in this age of online publishing, the onus is on to write smart.
Do you consciously strip adjectives when you write? I’d love to hear from you.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013
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