FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
TIP #002: ANNIHILATE ADJECTIVES
DESCRIBE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER WITH ACTION VERBS INSTEAD OF ADJECTIVES.
“He was careful and intent, with a scruffy beard and beady eyes.” Okay, but what was he doing carefully and intently? How does his beard feel? What is he looking at with his eyes? Does he have a vision problem? Make your characters come to life by showing the reader what’s going on instead of telling the reader adjectives.
Authors “show” by describing action. Get into the character’s senses — what do they hear, see, touch, smell, taste and how does that make them respond?
By getting into the character’s senses and responses, the author can slowly reveal their motivations and goals. Authors bring their characters to life through action, including dialog. Dialog is a way to show and not tell.
Give the character flaws, nobody is perfect. To have a believable character, they need to have some quirks. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they struggle with their weaknesses? How are they overconfident in their strengths? How does the character change over time in reaction to what’s going on in the story?
Annihilating adjectives doesn’t mean to neglect the physical description of the character or their surroundings. However, even in the physical description, consider the character’s actions and interactions with the world.
MAKE YOUR CHARACTER 3-DIMENSIONAL
- What is their wound?
- How do they hide their wound?
- How is their wound exposed?
- How do they respond when their wound is exposed?
- How do they compensate for their wound?
BE MEAN TO YOUR CHARACTER
Authors frequently want to be “nice” to their main character. Let them skate or avoid consequences. Do the opposite. Find the embarrassing place, the squeal, the no-way-that-can-happen alternative and write that. Don’t rescue your character, describe their fall and how they pick themselves back up again. That will enthrall your readers.
Here are a few character writing tips to further explore:
- Use Dialog to reveal your character
- Write flawed characters
- focus on action not adjectives in your writing