Too Many Adjectives
This is the thirty-fifth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
One thing you are not supposed to do in most creative writing is clutter it with adjectives. Writing teachers tell you over and over again that good writing is all about interesting nouns and strong verbs, and that adjectives and adverbs water it down. For this week’s exercise, you will first indulge in what you’re not supposed to do- overwrite with adjectives- and then you will redact them to see what remains.
- Simply write a description of the room you are sitting in. Go out of your way to describe every noun with at least one adjective, more if you can. Even add adverbs to each of your verbs. Write in the form a paragraph or freewrite.
The stained, splintered picnic tables, wooden and square, line the grey, textured, pressboard deck floor. Empty and blankly anticipating the afterwork hours, they are bare and dirty, silent bearers of unwelcome splinters. Oblong globular lights zigzag neatly above them, hungrily anticipating a later hour.
- Take a black pen and cross out every adjective and adverb.
splintered picnic tables, wooden and square, line the grey,
textured, pressboard deck floor . Empty and blankly anticipating the afterwork
hours, they are bare and dirty, silent bearers of unwelcome
splinters. Oblong globular lights zigzag neatly above them, hungrily
anticipating a later hour.
- Rewrite the remaining words as a poem, adding line breaks where appropriate. Change articles (a/an/the) and prepositions (to/from/in/at) as needed.
picnic tables line the deck floor
anticipating the hours they are
bearers of splinters
and lights zigzag above
anticipating the hour
How did you do? Does your poem include space that the original description did not have? Space that allows the images to breathe – suggesting subtleties and connotations?
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