Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A plea to authors - easy on the adjectives. I beg you.

*Sunnie drags out her soapbox, climbs onto it, clears her throat and begins her rant*

I'm afraid it's one of my pet peeves: the overuse of adjectives.

I seem to be coming across it more and more these days and it annoys me no end.

It's all very well to say a man is short, but do we need subsequent paragraphs to also describe him as "compact" and "dwarfish"? I get the idea already. I don't need it to be rammed home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer on my noggin.

This passage ensured the book I was reading was a DNF for me as the author had indulged in similar adjectival overuse prior to this.

Another recent instance of adjectival abuse I came across was an author seemingly addicted to one particular adjective. I lost track of the number of times the word "whinge" was used (for those not familiar with this one - the wiktionary definition of whinge is to complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner). There seemed to be an entire squad of detectives all whingeing their way through the story. In the end it became a distraction.

I'll close my rant with my favourite example of adjective overload from a book by an author who shall remain nameless.

"She took two of the upturned glasses standing on the crisp white
towel on the black marble counter and poured them both a drink before
gliding across the room, extending her long slender arm and handing him
his water."

The above was a very minor detail. She gave him a glass of water
would have sufficed.

Yes, I know that's probably at the extreme end of the spectrum with the overuse of adjectives, but you get the point. Less truly is more.

What I want to know is why? Why the need for over description and why do editors let it go through to the keeper?

1 comment:

Bernadette in Australia said...

I know how you feel Sunnie and I get a bit miffed with it all myself. I'm in the midst of a book that has simile mania which I also find annoying. I think they must go to writing class but only listen to a third of what's said :)