Last week one of the tips talked about getting rid of adjectives and adverbs, and some people thought that was a little strict. Of course, the dude wasn't saying get rid of all of them, just the excess. Here is a little more advice on exactly what one can do to fix up the too-many-adjectives-adverbs-and-modifiers problem...
- Strengthen your nouns and verbs so that they don't need adjectives and adverbs. You could say "He was a brutal man," or "He was a tyrant"; you could say "She was a kind, charitable woman," or "She was a saint"; you could say "It was a torrential rain", or "It was a downpour"; you could say "He was running quickly," or "He was sprinting." In the same way that you can find better adjectives or adverbs, at least some of the time you should be able to come up with stronger (or more precise) nouns or verbs that can make adjectives and adverbs unneccesary to begin with. You will be able to cut scores of adjectives and adverbs just by strengthening their subjects, making for a much tighter manuscript.
- Occasionally substitute a comparison (analogy, simile or metaphor) for an adjective. You can say "He ran a clean, well-organized office," or "He ran his office like a ship"; you can say "The man was tall, heavy, overgrown," or "The man was built like a bear"; you can say "He ate ravenously, without any decorum," or "He ate like an animal". You don't want to replace every adjective or adverb in your manuscript with a comparison, but occasionally it works well, further reducing the number of modifiers and simultaneously filling your manuscript with visuals. It may also reduce the sheer number of words, which makes for a tighter read.
~ The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman
Happy writing, writers!