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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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Re: Jan's Class

Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:25 am

browniesgal wrote:Bone tired, Jan shuffled through her door, slipped off her shoes, and thanked God her day was over. Her thoughts had drifted to the rewards in the 'fridge, a diet soda and chocolate cake perhaps.

"Ow!" what did I step on? Pain shot through her heel. She raised her foot and saw the little red offender, a Lego, left from yesterday by my nephew, no doubt.


Okay, Ruth, thanks for being a great sport, like Barb.

The main problem I see here is pretty easy to fix, and has to do with indicating thoughts. You've got the italics bit down pat, but a few other machanics need tweaking. Here's my corrected version:

Bone tired, Jan shuffled through her door, clipped off her shoes, and thanked God her day was over. Her thoughts had drifted to the rewards in the fridge. A diet soda and chocolate cake, perhaps.

"Ow! What did I step on?" Pain shot through her heel. She raised her heel and saw the little red offender. A Lego, left from yesterday by my nephew, no doubt.


Each thought stands alone, not connected to the previous sentence by a comma. Also, the close quote mark was moved to after 'on' rather than after 'ow'.

The last thing I'd like you to think about for future writings is how people really talk and think. I wonder if a gal by herself in her house would actually say "Ow! What did I step on?" More likely, she'd just say "Ow!" And that last bit of thought about the nephew just doesn't ring true. I'd have written something like Shawn's Lego...

What do you think?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:38 am

Cajunluvie wrote: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 her turquoise heels unceremoniously by the tall hat rack to her left. She sighed as she took a moment to massage(d) 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.


Cajunluvie, I give you huge props for creativity--you certainly went above and beyond the assignment! I love the salsa words you've picked: chucked, peered, misshapen, culprit.

It's all about balance, though... and I totally get what you were doing here, but now that you've taken my HORRIBLE passage and made it much better--time to edit again. Because now your readers are going to wonder why you've spent all these words on getting a snack.

I've bolded what I'd snip; feel free to defend any of them! The give-and-take of this class is the most valuable part, and I'm certainly not the Queen of English...

Oh, and change the Pepsi to a Diet Coke.
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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:41 am

CherieAnn wrote: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.


Cherie--lovely!
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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:43 am

Pat, I've already given the gold star to Kristen, so putting an adorable kitty in your story gets you nothing, do you hear me? Nothing!

(But it was a great story).
Jan Ackerson

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Re: adverbs and adjectives

Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:53 am

cranderson wrote: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


Charlene, this is an excellent re-write, and I appreciate your reasons for every choice you made.

The only one I question is leaving 'ebony' in--how descriptive do we really need to be about shoes? Unless they're somehow central to Jan's character, I don't think we need to know what color they are.

Props for your proper use of the semicolon, and the spelling of 'minuscule'!
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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:58 am

kmacor wrote: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.


kmacor, this is just fine! As I said a few posts ago, it's all about balance. You want to take out the extra junk that weighs a passage down, but you also want to keep in some interesting stuff. Face it, it's not a particularly fascinating passage in the first place...(totally my fault).

You might want to pop over to Ann's class on commas for reasons why I've added a few commas in red to your re-write.
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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:59 am

rita5000 wrote: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.


Rita, I love "barefooted it to the kitchen". Great phrase!
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Postby A Nonny Mouse » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:48 am

glorybee wrote: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!


Thank you, Jan! Like I said, I love these lessons, and I'm learning a lot from them.

As for my take on the fridge, that may have come from the fact that when I have an exhausting day, that's where I go for comfort, lol! A little bit of real life sneaking into the story, I guess.

Looking forward to the next lesson!

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Postby Pat » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:05 pm

glorybee wrote:Pat, I've already given the gold star to Kristen, so putting an adorable kitty in your story gets you nothing, do you hear me? Nothing!

(But it was a great story).



Drats, I must work on my sucking-up-to-teacher skills. :mrgreen:

Kind of got attached to Chauncey. Of course, she probably is the one who put the Leggo at the door after finding it under the couch. Poor nephew got blamed (as usual) for Chauncey's shenanigans. 8) (sounds like another royal feline we all know and sometimes love) :D

Oh, and I'm open for public humiliation on anything I write in your class. I noticed this morning I misspelled 'heel' and tried to change it before you got to it. :mrgreen:

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Jan's Class

Postby browniesgal » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:18 pm

Jan wrote: Okay, Ruth, thanks for being a great sport, like Barb.

The main problem I see here is pretty easy to fix, and has to do with indicating thoughts. You've got the italics bit down pat, but a few other machanics need tweaking. Here's my corrected version:

Bone tired, Jan shuffled through her door, clipped off her shoes, and thanked God her day was over. Her thoughts had drifted to the rewards in the fridge. A diet soda and chocolate cake, perhaps.

"Ow! What did I step on?" Pain shot through her heel. She raised her heel and saw the little red offender. A Lego, left from yesterday by my nephew, no doubt.

Each thought stands alone, not connected to the previous sentence by a comma. Also, the close quote mark was moved to after 'on' rather than after 'ow'.

The last thing I'd like you to think about for future writings is how people really talk and think. I wonder if a gal by herself in her house would actually say "Ow! What did I step on?" More likely, she'd just say "Ow!" And that last bit of thought about the nephew just doesn't ring true. I'd have written something like Shawn's Lego...

What do you think?
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Jan Ackerson

I think your points are very well taken, but did you misspell a word above? I made it bold. I may not be popular with the teacher after this. :mrgreen:

Thank you very much, Jan

Love, Ruth

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:19 pm

You got me! LOL, Ruth, thanks. In my defense, it was a typo, not a misspelling. But I'll leave it there, to keep me humble.
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Jan's class

Postby browniesgal » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:30 pm

:heehee I understand. I did not mean to write she clipped her shoes off, rather she slipped her shoes off. I have enough mistakes to make me humble forever I think. Love, Ruth

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Adjectives and Adverbs

Postby Hoppy Sheldon » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:23 pm

After a grueling day at work Jan staggered into the house. Kicking off her shoes and shuffling towards the kitchen Jan opened the fridge grabbing a soda and the last piece of chocolate cake for a snack.

Thinking about her snack Jan stepped on a piece of Lego her nephew had missed yesterday. "OW" she hollered as excruciating pain shot through her heel.

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Postby glorybee » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:28 pm

Hoppy, nice job at locating all of my unnecessary words and sweeping them away. For further "homework", see if you can perk up the passage in any way--just because we should trim the fat doesn't mean we have to make the dinner bland and flavorless!

You might also want to check out the foum called "Ann's Jots and Tittles" for some rules on comma placement (there are a few missing in your example).

You're well on your way, and I'm so glad you've visited these classes! Well done!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Joolz » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:56 am

Jan, you wanted to hear from poets? I'll give my two cents worth, if you like [or even if you don't, for that matter! :wink: ].

It's always good to choose words wisely, but more so in poetry where you may be limited by words that 'fit' - either the ryhme or the rythm (or both).

My rhyming poetry generally tells a story so I usually limit descriptors, concentrating instead on using apt verbs and nouns.

My free verse, however, relies more on the reader being able to 'feel' what I'm saying, so I am more likely to use several descriptors in a row, though each one may be slightly different in meaning.

Now for my homework for this lesson. I wrote this before I read any posts, so it's a little dull after the great versions already written here.

Exhausted, Jan trudged into her house, slipping off her shoes at the door with a sigh of relief. Work had seemed to drag on forever. She plodded towards the kitchen, her mouth watering for a soda and something sweet – maybe there was leftover cake from her nephew Jarrod’s visit yesterday.

“Ow!” she yelled as a sharp pain jolted through her foot. Stuck in the tender flesh of her heel was a tiny Lego. “Jarrod!” she said under her breath.



Unnecessary words -
“weary, and worn out” both mean the same as exhausted, so no need to use them.
“shiny, stainless steel” – this description is unnecessary, unless the refrigerator’s design is important to the story [maybe we see Jarrod’s fingerprints smudged on the door?].

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