Writer’s Wednesday – Becoming an Adjective Connoisseur



All writers use adjectives on a regular basis, but few take time to select the true “Renaissance Men” of adjectives.  It is unfortunate that one could put more time and thought into selecting his drink at Starbucks than into selecting the most powerful adjectives and still call himself a writer, but this is a reality of our time.


We need to think of selecting an adjective to insert into an article or story in the same way we would approach selecting a pair of eyeglasses, or the way a lady painstakingly hunts for a dress that fits just right.


The problem with most adjectives is this:  they are simply too vanilla.  Generic adjectives make for bland writing, and due to their lack of specificity the writer is required to explain further, causing the dreaded word count to soar.


When searching for the perfect adjective, do not settle until you’ve found a single word that:

     1.) Creates an unforgettable word image.

     2.) Explains an idea completely, with no need for further explanation.


Take this sentence, for example:

Matilda was terrified of her scary uncle.


The word “scary” really does nothing for us, since the fact that Matilda is terrified already tells us that he is scary.  We are left with the question: why is the uncle so scary?  This adjective is a waste of space on the page.  Try finding a more specific one:

Matilda was terrified of her cruel, ugly, mean-spirited uncle.


Now we have a more complete picture of what is going on, but this endless list of adjectives is tiresome to the reader and will shatter your attempts at keeping a slim word count.  Keep searching for that perfect describing word:

Matilda was terrified of her satanic uncle.


Bingo!  Now you have a single adjective with the power to conjure up an entire host of images in the mind’s eye.  This is the word you’ve been looking for!


Never settle for “fast-food” adjectives again!  Become an “adjective connoisseur” and select each word with care, and your mediocre writing will morph into a gourmet selection that will impress the most sensitive palate!

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