Friday, February 17, 2017

Celebrate the small things: salt and pepper

When teaching my students how to improve their writing, one of the things I stress is the importance of adjectives and adverbs. I explain to them that adjectives add information to nouns and adverbs add information to verbs. Without them, adjectives especially, writing can be dull, and the one thing you don't want as a writer is to bore your readers. I tell them that adjectives and adverbs add flavour to their writing. Without descriptive language, writing can taste very bland to the reader's palate. (with more advanced learners I can also discuss metaphorical language as exemplified by my previous sentence.)

I recently chose a book based on the title and the blurb. Had I also read the first chapter or even the first few pages, I would not have bought it. Why? As far as descriptive and metaphorical language goes, it was a desert. I won't name the book here, but I did, after much deliberation, review it on Goodreads with a rating of two stars. I read through it quickly without feeling engaged or especially interested at any point. At first, I didn't know why, and then I figured it out. Aside from other faults, like excessive use of passive voice, it lacked descriptive language. I might be wrong, but I don't think there was a single metaphor or simile to be found between its covers. 

Quickly moving on to the next novel, I was immediately relieved. To continue my desert metaphor from above, I had made it to an oasis where I was able to jump in to beautiful literary writing, full of wonderful descriptive passages and powerful metaphors. My soul was refreshed after just one chapter of The Water Horse by Julia Gregson.

That is also the reason I love classic novels so much: they feature such beautiful and fascinating language, as well as unusual and complex sentence structures.

So today I am thankful for adjectives, adverbs and metaphors: salt and pepper, and mushroom sauce on my reading steak. 


  1. The classics definitely took more time to lay out a story and sketch in the image of the world you would be visiting.

    I'm currently reading Dorian Gray. Beautiful imagery, metaphors, and descriptors.

    1. Too true Elizabeth. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo. So profound and beautifully written.

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  3. i know what you Darwin's shooter by roger mcdonald is exquisite.

    1. Good to hear from you again SR. I visited your blog with the intention to follow, but I couldn't find a 'follow' button. Exquisite? What a choice adjective...makes me want to read the book. I'll add it to my list. Thanks for visiting, and taking the time to comment.

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