Note: If the words don’t slay you today, skip to the images.

Have you ever read as advice to writers:

go back and cut out the adjectives


It’s one of those suggestions that has always raised my hackles. I love my descriptives. Well. At a used book store the other day I picked up a chunky paperback, first of a fantasy trilogy by someone I remember from my days of consuming fantasies like so many oatmeal cookies.

Okay. Page One has some superscript and ornament, then the title. Text begins about halfway down the page. I quit reading halfway down Page Two, opened Scrivener to my most recent poems and started looking for words to cut.

In roughly 44 lines, 250-300 words, the adjective/noun sore thumbs poked out so much they hurt. Da, da, da, adjective noun, da da da, adjective noun. As Donald Trump would say: So sad.

I should have guessed from the thickness that there was padding involved. And the uncracked book was wearing its second used book store sticker. Enough ranting.

How about we get some use out of it? Column A modifier, Column B noun (Yeah, I know—not precisely so) Do some mix and match. Create a title and three or four phrases. Take them where you will.

strong arms
slim shoulders
dark-haired, driven man
blazing crest
terrible doubts
tender need
suspended moment
inexpressible joy

1st paragraph, 11 lines

small-boned enchantress
threadbare quilts
fretful sleep
muted cry
unglazed croft window
full awareness
irreversible reality
mild sea winds

6 lines

muffled boom
stainless sands
ferocious, clawing breath
white-mantled dales

4 lines

open glens
scrub oak
rustling flats
frozen marsh
driven bursts
ill-fitted shutters
frosted arc
leaked bit of moonlight
spent tang
cut cedar
frost-damp miasma
moldered thatch
deep breath
runaway pound

11 lines



Tell us what you see:






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