Monday, August 8, 2011


"God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed."
~~Mark Twain

~~If you're as amazed by that quote as I am, you are looking at it and wondering just when on earth do you use adjectives? And adverbs for that matter. We've all heard the writing rule to cut adjectives and adverbs and "use stronger verbs and concise nouns." So I have a question for you--where do you get those stronger verbs and concise nouns? Is there a nifty little list we can consult or is it trial and error, learning by doing?

~~I'm a bit tongue in cheek, but sometimes I do find it hard to find the right word that makes the sentence say what I need it to say and cut to the bone of the topic at hand. Of course, Mark Twain has a quote for that, too.

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

~~So happy hunting, my fellow word sleuths. ; )


  1. Word sleuths, I like it. Loved the last quote. I know that's what makes a novel stand out in the slush pile.

  2. Mark Twain and Winston Churchill have just the write words to say. Good post! I am awarding you this award.
    Thank you for being a wonderful Follower of my blog, please click here and collect an award for your time and effort

    You may copy and paste it to your blog...or not.

  3. Oh, to stand out! Right now, I'll settle for a completed draft to revise. ; )

  4. Hey Zan Marie,

    I usually pick my brain for the word I want - I will frequently google the definition (even if I know the word well) to double check the finer points of meaning or any secondary meanings.

    The other thing was that I never read the dictionary when I was a kid; I picked up most of my vocabulary from reading and seeing words in context. This has served me well, but sometimes words don't always mean exactly what I think they mean, so I want to get it right. [g]

    Sometimes if I know there's a 'right' word out there but I can't think of it, I will use a thesaurus or google for synonyms of a word that's close to what I want.

    I liked your first quote; I'm terrible about adjectives, but I recently realized how much better my writing looks without the heap o' adjectives, so I'm trying to trim down. [g]

    Good luck in your writing!

  5. Susan,
    Thanks for the reward! I'll be along in a minute. ; )

    You're so right about the shades of meaning we thought the word has! I can really mess up that way. Now if my vocabulary was a definitive as a dictionary... ; )

  6. You mean besides Jo's masterful list of what to avoid? [g] So far I've done a search/replace/delete for:
    all words ending in -ly

    Still have to look for:

    and so on. It never ends!

  7. LOL! Deniz, I do have Jo's list, but the thought of really going through word by word is not my cop of tea. I know, I know. I'll have to do it anyway. ; )

  8. I love copy editing others' writing, cough cough...

  9. Actually sometimes a thesaurus is your best friend. I used to utilize the lists but they got too long and couldn't keep track or find the words I wanted. LOL

  10. LOL! Too many words. Yes, sometime we do have too many don't we. Thanks, Jo, I enjoyed the thought.


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