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Jan's Writing Basics #2: Beware of Adjectives and Adverbs

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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A Nonny Mouse
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Postby A Nonny Mouse » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:05 pm

Okay, here's my take on it (and I did like you said and didn't read anyone else's before I posted mine):

Exhausted from a work day that seemed to never end, Jan trudged into her house, dropping her shoes at the door. Plodding barefoot into the kitchen, all she wanted was a soda and some comfort food -- chocolate cake, perhaps? She stepped toward the gleeming refrigerator, which seemed to be saying, "Come to me. I can make you feel better."

"Ow!" she exclaimed, lifting up her left foot to investigate the cause of the sudden pain. Embedded in her heel was one miniscule Lego brick, left over from her nephew's visit the day before.

Let's see... extra, unecessary words:

If you're exhausted, then you're "weary" and "worn out" so those don't need to be used; if the day was endless, then it was "long"; I didn't even use "dark ebony" because I didn't think it added to the scene; if you're plodding, it's a pretty sure bet you're not feeling a lot of "enthusiasm"; You don't need "icy" with "cold"; or "sugary" with "saccharine"; and as long as you describe the fridge as "shiny" or another comparable word, you don't need "stainless steel" for the fridge. If you exclaim, then it will probably be "loudly"; a sharp pain is already "acute"; her nephew will be "young" if he's playing with Lego bricks; and if something is embedded enough to make you say "ow!" then one can already assume the flesh is tender.

This was great, Jan! My biggest problem in writing has been too many "-ly" adverbs, so as I read your lesson, I saw myself all over the place! I know I can look back through my previous writing and really cut things down, just by using better verbs -- more salsa words -- and getting rid of the extra adjectives and adverbs.

Thanks for these lessons, Jan. They are a big help to me. I really appreciate this!

Now I'm going to go read everyone's posts!

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Postby Ms. Barbie » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:07 pm

Jan, go ahead and do it here, we can all learn from it!

(I even had a problem in college with too wordy research papers!)
Barb Culler

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:10 pm

PamDavis wrote:Rewrite: I am not too proud to keep trying until I get it right!

Exhausted, Jan walked into the refuge of her house at the end of a long discouraging day at work. Slipping off her pinching shoes at the door, the working single mom plodded toward the cluttered kitchen. She craved a cold soda and something sweet. My diet can start tomorrow. I hope the baby-sitter didn’t find the piece of leftover cake I hid at the back of the shelf in the ice box.


“Ow!” She raised her foot to find the source of sudden sharp pain. Imbedded in the flesh of her heel Jan discovered a Lego! Her visiting nephew must have left it yesterday.


Much better, Pam! Your sentences are more varied and more interesting in this one. Thanks for being willing to give it a second try.
Jan Ackerson

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Beware of Adjectives and Adverbs

Postby Hoppy Sheldon » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:25 pm

After a grueling day at work Jan staggered into the house. She kicked off her shoes and shuffled toward the kitchen. Opening the fridge she grabbed a cold soda and the last piece of delicious chocolate cake for a snack.

She was thinking about her snack when she stepped on a piece of Lego her nephew forgot to pick up yesterday. She shouted "OW" as an excruciating pain shot through her heel.

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Postby browniesgal » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:54 pm

:oops: Feel free to tackle it here. Like Barb we all need to grow from this. Ruth

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Postby Cajunluvie » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:24 pm

Exhausted, weary, and worn out, Jan walked tiredly into her house at the end of a long, seemingly endless day at work. She slipped off her dark ebony shoes at the door and plodded unenthusiastically toward the kitchen. All she wanted was an icy cold soda and something sugary saccharine—maybe there was leftover cake in the shiny stainless steel refrigerator.

“Ow!” she exclaimed loudly. She lifted up her left foot to examine curiously what had caused her such sudden, sharp, acute pain. Embedded firmly in the tender flesh of her heel was one minuscule Lego, left over from her young nephew’s visit the previous day before.

_______________________________________________________

After a long day of wraggling with customers at Michel's Boutique, Jan was more than ready to chuck off her shoes and drag herself to the kitchen and down a glass of cold Pepsi. She slammed the door behind her and kicked off the turquoise heels unceremoniously by the tall hat rack to her left. Jan sighed as she took a moment to massage her neck then she remembered she was thirsty. The kitchen seemed like miles away from her when it was only a couple of steps away around the corner. She groaned. Start walking, she muttered to her self. She ambled over to the stainless steel refrigerator and peered inside, searching for anything to satiate her sweet tooth along with the cold glass of Pepsi over ice.

"Hmm, didn't I put a slice of lemon cream in here last night?" Jan muttered. "Aha! There it is." She grabbed the foil-wrapped plate with the lemon cream cake and hurried to the drawer to pull out a fork. She swiveled her hip to the right to shut the drawer back in and did an about face. She felt a quick jolt of pain race up her feet to her ankle, she buckled to her knees.

"Wha...-" She gasped. Lifting up her foot, she spied a red misshapen Lego and shook her head. "Jason!" She invoked the culprit, her nephew, who had been here the day before and must have left the Lego behind.

I noticed there were too many adjectives that basically had a similar concept like : exhausted, weary, worn out which is redundant. I tried to write it in a more active voice where the reader could identify with the character better while giving enough active descriptions so the reader can see the scene as it unfolds.

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Postby CherieAnn » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:51 pm

Exhausted from a long day at work, Jan trudged through her front door and slipped off her pumps. What she needed was something cold and laced with sugar.

She plodded towards the fridge.

"Youch!" A sharp pain coursed through her foot. "What in the world?" Jan lifted her foot to find a small Lego embedded in the tender flesh of her heel.

"Jimmy," she clicked her tongue in reprimand, even though her nephew was nowhere in the house.



This was a fun assignment!
I havent written anything in a month :shock: So this was a nice refresher for me :)

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Postby Pat » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:34 am

Exhausted, weary, and worn out, Jan walked tiredly into her house at the end of a long, seemingly endless day at work. She slipped off her dark ebony shoes at the door and plodded unenthusiastically toward the kitchen. All she wanted was an icy cold soda and something sugary saccharine—maybe there was leftover cake in the shiny stainless steel refrigerator.

“Ow!” she exclaimed loudly. She lifted up her left foot to examine curiously what had caused her such sudden, sharp, acute pain. Embedded firmly in the tender flesh of her heel was one minuscule Lego, left over from her young nephew’s visit the previous day before.



Pat drudged through a seemingly endless abyss of adverbs and adjectives that plunged her brain into the deep vortex of unnecessary words. *gag* (sorry about my brain's gag reflex) :mrgreen:

Here it goes ... and without reading anyone else's ...


Jan's keys slipped to the carpet as she leaned against the door. She closed her eyes and took in the comforting fragrance of her home. She tried to kick off her shoes but her feet were swollen so she dropped her purse and groaned a sigh of relief as she tossed them in the corner. All she wanted to do was still the buzz twirling in her head. It had been a long day.

"Coke and cake. It's a start." she said, starring at nothing down the hall.

"Owwwoooo!" she yelped into the silence as she began the short trek toward the kitchen.

Jan hopped to her comfy rocker to examine her left foot to see what caused such searing pain. "That twerp." she smiled. "I told him to make sure he got each piece."

There embedded in her heel was one tiny Leggo piece her nephew overlooked.

"Oh well." she said to her imperial furry friend who came barreling into the room, twitching her agitation, "Coke and cake, how 'bout it Chaunc? You up for some tuna?"

Jan made her way to the fridge hobbling on the ball of her foot, Chauncey beat her there with the regal sway of a queen ... for she never followed behind.





(Too long I know, but I got carried away. It was Chauncey's fault.)
Last edited by Pat on Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

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adverbs and adjectives

Postby cranderson » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:11 am

This is the second test I've taken in your series. I'm learning already. Thank you for giving us this oportunity to learn the basics. Knowing this is available helps me to realize I'm not alone in my shortcomings. I never did well in English classes in school. Sciences were my best courses. Now I have this desire to write so I hope my skills catch up with my desire.


This is the re-write I suggest.

Exhausted, Jan trudged into her house at the finish of an endless day at work. She slipped off her ebony shoes at the door and plodded toward the kitchen. All she longed for was a cold drink and something sugary; maybe there was leftover cake in the refrigerator.
“Ow!” She cried out. She examined her left foot to see what had caused the sharp pain in her heel. Embedded firmly in the tender flesh was a minuscule Lego, left over from her nephew’s visit the previous day.

Unnecessary adjectives and adverbs in the sample:
Weary and worn out mean the same as exhausted. Only one is needed.
Tiredly is not needed because we already know she is exhausted.
Long and endless have nearly the same meaning in this context so I changed it to “the finish of an endless day”.
I don’t think seemingly is needed because the word endless already expresses her opinion since it can’t be proven by fact.
Dark and ebony are similar. Using both doesn’t add to the story. Since ebony is a more descriptive word I chose to use it instead of just dark. Also ebony is black and how light or dark can black be?
Unenthusiastically is not needed because plodding already seems unenthusiastic.
Icy cold is redundant.
Sugary saccharine is redundant.
Shiny stainless steel. The type of refrigerator is not needed to tell the story.
I guess exclaimed loudly is OK but I thought cried out was a cleaner way to say the same thing.
Curiously is not needed because she would have to be curious to pick up her foot to examine it.
Sudden and acute mean the same thing.
Embedded and firmly are similar but I think firmly adds to the seriousness of the injury so I left it in.
Previous and before are redundant.

I hope I got the right idea here and my reasoning is logical.

Thanks
Charlene Anderson

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Postby browniesgal » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:19 am

Wow! You all are very creative. You make our class fun. Great images. :mrgreen:
The full blown story was too cute. Love, Ruth

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Postby kmacor » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:51 am

I did my changes and then read the other posts. Wow, they are good. I think I probably simplified Jan's paragraph too much but I'm going to stick with what I did. So here goes.

Exhausted, Jan slipped off her shoes as she entered the house. She plodded to the refrigerator seeking a soda and a piece of cake.

“Ow!” Examining her foot she found a minuscule piece of Lego embedded in the flesh of her heel. It was left over from her young nephew’s visit the previous day.

I wish I'd read this lesson before I entered the Challenge this week.

Thanks Jan. This has been very helpful.
The LORD looks at the world from his throne in heaven, and he watches us all. Psalm 33:13,14

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Postby rita5000 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:16 am

It felt good to be home, Jan had passed up tired a few hours earlier. She kicked her shoes off at the door and barefooted it to the kitchen. She was thirsty and in need of comfort food.

“Ow.” She lifted her foot and found a tiny lego. As she rubbed her foot she smiled at the memory of playing with her nephew.
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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:03 am

Wow, have I ever fallen behind with these responses!

Okay, one at a time.

Nonny, I loved your re-write. Can't think of a thing I'd change except perhaps for the refrigerator that seems to speak, but that's purely a stylistic choice, and nothing to do with adjectives and adverbs. It's your creative take on the admittedly ridiculous paragraph, so it's fine!

Thanks so much for taking part!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:10 am

Ms. Barbie wrote:Exhausted from the long, stressful day at work, she dragged her weary body into her home and slumped against the door. Peeling off expensive black heals from her swollen feet; Jan limped to the kitchen, and opened the door to the fridge. Her throat was parched, and all she wanted was a long drink of cold Diet Coke, and something sweet and chocolaty to eat.
“Ouch!” she yelled out. Something bit her bare foot.
Jan leaned against the table and painfully lifted up her foot to examine the damage.
“Ow!’Jan plucked a small yellow Lego from her heal
“Darn that nephew of mine! I thought we had put away all those toys yesterday.”


Okay, Barb--thanks for being a good sport. Here goes.

I'd replace the 'she' in the first sentence with Jan, and replace the first 'Jan' with 'she'. Use the proper name first, and then the pronoun.

'heels' is spelled wrong. With an 'a', it's what Jesus does. With an 'e', it's the bottom of your feet.

The semicolon in the second sentence should be a comma. Use semicolons to join two independent clauses. In this case, the first part of the sentence is not an independent clause.

Eliminate the comma after 'Coke'. (See Ann's class for the reason)

Eliminate 'she yelled out'.

Any questions about any of these changes? Let me know.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Beware of Adjectives and Adverbs

Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:13 am

Hoppy Sheldon wrote:After a grueling day at work Jan staggered into the house. She kicked off her shoes and shuffled toward the kitchen. Opening the fridge she grabbed a cold soda and the last piece of delicious chocolate cake for a snack.

She was thinking about her snack when she stepped on a piece of Lego her nephew forgot to pick up yesterday. She shouted "OW" as an excruciating pain shot through her heel.


Hoppy, I'm so glad you found your way here!

You did a great job of discarding unnecessary words. However, you had the same problem that an earlier poster did; in taking out the junk, you've now got three sentences that begin with "She". Can you give it another shot, and add more variety to your sentences? (Feel free to read through my responses to some of the other posts, too).
Jan Ackerson

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