Tips to Improve Story Description When Using Adjectives

image by narciso1

Writers want readers to picture the multiple-faceted things in their stories. Try these tips on when to use adjectives and how many in an adjective string.

Evaluate the Need for Adjectives

 

  1. First, decide whether the object is worth highlighting.
  • Is it something you want the reader to picture and then move on?
  • Or does it need description to create a better visual for the setting?
  • Or is it important to the scene’s purpose?

Examples

* Cara opened the door and bustled her bags inside.

No adjectives moves the story along.

 

image by Prawny

* Cara opened the front door and bustled her grocery bags inside.

Perhaps the sentence is in a scene’s opening paragraph. The reader learns Cara enters the front of the house and she’s been to the grocery store.

 

* Cara opened the door and bustled her suitcases inside.

Use specific nouns when possible. Suitcases works without using adjectives, such as in traveling bags.

 

* Cara opened the men’s bathroom door and peeked inside.

If men’s was omitted, the reader would miss important information.

 

Do objects need more than one adjective?

 

  1. Two adjectives adjacent to the object (noun) separated by a comma can cause the reader to stop at the second adjective and reevaluate his image. His re-evaluation becomes cumbersome with a string of adjectives. Usually, one adjective works best.

Examples

* Cara opened the tall, massive door and hustled the inexpensive, jute gunny sack inside.

Pick one adjective for the door. Above, the reader imagines a tall door then stops to put heft on the door. To me, massive is the better descriptor. If tall is important, include tall in another sentence: The woman tossed the sack to Jack and closed the tall door.

The definition of a gunny sack is an inexpensive bag made of burlap formed from jute, hemp, or other natural fibers. Inexpensive is unnecessary. Jute may not be needed either.

 

* Cara opened the massive door and hustled the gunny sack inside.

This flows well and gives the reader good images.

 

Here’s another example. I’ll improve it by inserting and removing adjectives.

Example

Andy slouched in in his overstuffed, gray, faux-leather chair and wiped beads from his lip. Little moving air reached him from the cracked-open, sash window or the sweeping, blue fan in the left corner. What could he do to escape the heat?

 

Rewrite

Andy slouched in his faux-leather armchair and wiped sweat beads from his upper lip. Little breeze reached him from the cracked-open window or the sweeping fan in the corner. What could he do to escape the heat?

The paragraph is about how hot Andy is. I’ve edited the paragraph to focus on heat.

I added sweat to identify the beads and upper to dash the image of beads on his lower lip. I chose faux-leather from the adjectives describing his chair. The reader may imagine skin sticking to faux-leather in the heat.

I changed the noun, chair, to armchair to improve the image without using an adjective. I replaced moving air with the noun breeze to avoid another adjective-noun combination. I selected sweeping over blue for the fan because sweeping creates movement. I removed sash because it’s not important and slows the sentence. Likewise, I removed left.

Try these suggestions on using adjectives to improve your paragraphs. Click to tweet.

What might be an instance when two adjectives separated by a comma are needed?

Buy Link 

Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

A Help to Write or Tailor the Manuscript on Your Heart

Today, I publish my 300th blog post. To celebrate, I share with you the major project I undertook to use many of my 300 blog posts. The project produced a resource soon to release that will help you write or get your manuscript in shape to publish. Below is the story about Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days from the book’s back pages and what professionals in the publishing industry are saying about the book.

Story of the Project

Zoe M. McCarthy was an actuary in her first career, but she always held a passion to create stories. Determined to learn the route to publication, she attended writers’ conferences, joined a critique group, studied books and blogs on writing and the publishing world, and analyzed novels to find out what worked in them.

image by stevepb

When Zoe’s first contemporary romance contracted, her further research on publishing and marketing convinced her she needed to start a blog and post regularly. Because her analytical side gives Zoe a keen interest in the mechanics and methodologies of good writing, a how-to blog on writing appealed to her. In 2012 she began her blog.

After Zoe had published over one-hundred posts, an agent and a publishing house editor, suggested she write a book based on her blog. The idea interested Zoe, and she attended a workshop on the dos and don’ts for turning blog posts into a book. She wanted to share more than the information she’d accumulated. She desired to help writers with manuscripts who didn’t know how to get them ready for publication, writers whose manuscripts received rejections, writers whose self-published novels received poor reviews, and writers who wanted to write the stories on their hearts but needed help to put them to paper. Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30Days was born.

Endorsements for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days

image by geralt

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

—Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  

—Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! 

—Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan.

—Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling cozy mystery author of the “Myrtle Clover Mysteries,” the “Southern Quilting Mysteries,” and the “Memphis Barbeque Mysteries,” http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/  

Zoe has developed a guiding resource for beginning writers. Her method is designed for brainstorming, shaping, and revising the early draft of a manuscript. General and specific tips are offered for applying rules of writing to enhance one’s story for a workable second draft. By exploring the plot line of Love Comes Softly, writers may examine their own work for stronger plot and characterization. Valuable tools are offered that enable the writer to develop a workable draft in only 30 days!

—Yvonne Lehman, award-winning, best-selling author of 48 novels

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is chock-full of practical techniques. Numerous examples clarify problem areas and provide workable solutions. The action steps and blah busters McCarthy suggests will help you improve every sentence, every paragraph of your novel. If you follow her advice and implement her strategies, a publisher will be much more likely to issue you a contract.

—Denise K. Loock, freelance editor, lightingeditingservices.com

A concise, detailed, step by step resource for all writers.

— Jamie West, editor coordinator, Pelican Book Group

Zoe’s writing blog has always intrigued me. As a high school English teacher, I can attest that her tips on good grammar and her hints for excellent sentence and paragraph structure are spot on. But as an author, I also appreciate her ever-present advice that excellent skills are not enough: you must tell a good story, too. This book clearly shows how to do it all.

—Tanya Hanson, “Writing the Trails to Tenderness,” author of Christmas Lights, Outlaw Heart, Hearts Crossing Ranch anthology, and coming in 2019, Tainted Lady, Heart of Hope, and Angel Heart. www.tanyahanson.com

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools.

–Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Celebrate my 300thblog with me and read how Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Dayswas born from my writing posts. Click to tweet.

Would you tell us about where the book laid on your heart stands in the publishing process—in your mind, in a draft under your bed, in search of a publisher, or in the world of published books?

Buy Link 

Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

Sticky Sentences Slow or Confuse Readers

image by stevepb

ProWritingAid introduced me to sticky sentences. ProWritingAid says this about sticky sentences, “A sticky sentence is one that is full of glue words.” To me, it’s a special way of looking at wordiness.

Sticky (or Glue) Words

Glue words are words that the reader has to go through before he gets to exactly what the sentence means to get across.

Oh dear, that last sentence is a sticky sentence.

The glue or sticky words are: are, that, the, has, to, go, through, before, to, what, the, to, get, across.

Wow, that’s a lot of glue words.

ProWritingAid suggests writers’ sentences contain less than 45% glue words.

The culprit sentence above contains 23 words. ProWritingAid identified 14 glue words. 14/23=64%

image by Pexels

 

Not all the identified glue words are making the sentence a sticky sentence. Each could be fine in other sentences. It’s the number of them that tires or confuses the reader.

 

Let me rewrite the sentence.

Glue words are words the reader must wade through before he receives the sentence’s idea.

My sentence still has 6 sticky words: are, the, must, through, before, the. But the sentence contains less than 45% and is easier to read.

6/15 = 40%

Here are more examples. I’ll underline glue words.

Examples:

Here are a few more examples of sticky words in sentences. (64%)

Here are additional sticky-sentence examples. (33%)

 

It was wonderful to be in this house for the first time while the realtor was not there to watch her appraise it. (65%)

It was wonderful to be inside the house without the realtor present watching her appraise the rooms. (41%)

image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

We walked out to the truck to get more things as one of the crew struggled with all his might with its back door. (67%)  

We walked outside to collect more furniture as a crew member struggled with the truck’s rear door. (41%)

More glue words not noted above: some, should, going, up, down, right, left, straight, off, over, if, not, other.

Watch for sticky (or glue) words in your sentences. Click to tweet.

What is another sticky word you avoid?

Buy Link 

Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?