|By Antonio Litterio|
1. Early years teachers spend ages teaching us to think in terms of describing things when we write. They’re mad keen on adjectives and adverbs (don’t switch off, bluffers’ guide follows). The more flowery your work, the more they like it. That’s called “imaginative writing” when you’re young. When you’re an adult, it’s called “purple prose”. That’s frowned on. The occasional artistic flourish enriches your work, but going overboard too often makes it sickly.
2. Adjectives identify, define or describe something. They tell your reader how something looks, sounds, tastes, acts or feels. When you say “a biting wind” or “an exhausted teacher”, you’re using adjectives. They’re great for setting a scene, but don’t overdo them. Try and keep description to a minimum so you don’t slow your story down.
3. Adverbs are usually adjectives with an –ly ending. They describe how something is being done. If the way a performance turned out is vital to your plot, then “She drove the car insanely” is fine. What you mustn’t do with adverbs is tell your reader something they can work out for themselves. That’s why you should remove the adverbs from sentences such as “she shouted loudly” or “he murmured softly”, because you can’t shout or murmur in any other way.