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II. THE ELEMENTS
 

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2.Setting

 
(vi) ADJECTIVES
 

Adjectives are good for conveying the flavour of things. When you’re trying to capture how something would look or sound or feel, it’s natural to use words like ‘soft’, ‘blustery’, ‘cool’, ‘blue’, ‘long’, ‘slick’, ‘white’. Still, the usual advice is good advice: cut back on adjectives.

It’s not that adjectives are weak or inferior parts of speech, it’s that most writers—me included—tend to use too many of them. When you’re trying to convey the exact flavour of something, it’s tempting to keep throwing adjective after adjective at it. Tempting, but counter-productive. Multiple adjectives only weaken one another’s impact.

I still use too many adjectives in a first draft, because it’s often easier to make a few attempts and come back for a final decision later. If I want an impression of dreariness for a rainy street as night starts to fall, there are various aspects of the street that might work to convey it. So I go in for overkill—then cull ruthlessly when I come back to a second draft.

The only adjective you want is the very best one. As soon as the impression has been capture, move on!

OTHER SETTING TOPICS

(i) FACTS vs IMPRESSIONS

(ii) MISE-EN-SCENE    

(iii) WHAT WOULD YOU PERCEIVE?           

(iv) SPREAD IT THROUGH

(v) WEATHERS & TIMES OF DAY

(vii) THINK THROUGH CONSEQUENCES

(viii) MAKING IT FRESH

(ix) PERMANENT CONDITIONS

Other Elements Topics

1. Action  

3. Dialogue

4. Thinking Inside

 

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Richard Harland.