How Adjectives Can Affect Your Writing

All five senses are stimulated and something beautiful happens...your reader is taken far, far away from the ´´here and now´´ to the ´´there and then.´´ He or she has a vision, an image in their heads. Sensory and imagery are all stimulated by descriptions, not necessarily extravagent or excessive. It just takes one or two adjectives to wisp the reader off their feet and into another dimension.

Here are some vivid descriptions using adjectives. Of course, there are no wrong ways to describe something or someone, but the following are some examples from my own writing and other authors´ writing to guide you along:

1. ´´He clenches and unchlenches his jaw. He runs a hand through his hair and I realize for the first time that he´s not wearing a shirt. It´s so dark in this room I can only catch the curves and contours of his silhouette; the moon is allowed only a small window to light this space but I watch as the muscles in his arms tighten with every movement and I´m suddenly on fire. Flames are licking at my skin and there´s a burst of heat clawing through my stomach. Every inch of his body is raw with power, every surface somehow luminous in the darkness. In 17 years I´ve never seen anything like him.´´

-Shatter Me

´´Dark,´´ ´´raw´´ and ´´luminous´´ are simple adjectives that add incredible effect to the description of a character here. It only took three in this paragraph. No need to be excessive.

2. ´´Musa studied this magnificent physical specimen. Babarr was enormous but no adjective in the English language, and most certainly none in Punjabi, could accurately describe his gigantic torso. Larger than a Sumo wrestler and with pectoral muscles that gave his chest such incredible definition you knew without forensic analysis that the buldging veins of his forearms throbbed with steroids.´´

-The Reluctant Mullah

In the description of Barbarr, notice that most of these words are similes to one another which all show his larger-than-life, physical qualities.

3. ´´Although her caramel complexion glazed in the moonlight as the palace did, she did not see herself worthy of entering it. However, the darkness of the night matched the blackness of her hair, which was tied up into a knot, she did not see herself fit to be cherished against the moonlit and starry background as the palace did. Although the radiance of the palace lights reached out to her ginger silk shari, mottled with specks of glitter, it fluttered in a light breeze and Asha could not find the strength to reach the light. She felt wedged between two worlds: one behind her, a harsh reality, to which she was told she belonged and another in front of her, a dream that might never come true because it was a splendor some familiars said she was unworthy of.´´

-Her Feet Chime

This is an excerpt from my novella. I use adjectives to compare Asha to the palace. This comparison demonstrates how similar she and the palace are, but at the same time, how much of a contrast she feels from it. In this particular excerpt, I use comparison to portray sensory and imagery.

Try these literary techniques: simple adjectives, similes and comparison.

I would love to hear how your writing is going! Feel free to message me via any of my social media links on this site.

Happy Writing!

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