Friday, April 13, 2018

Adjectives and Adverbs

If nothing else, I’m having fun with these Wednesday night writing classes. You wouldn’t think something like adjectives and adverbs would be fun, but it was. :-)

Of course you all know what they are, right?

***crickets chirping***

That’s okay, far be it for me to judge. For most people the parts of a sentence rank right up there with calculus and algebra – you have a vague recollection of learning them in high school, declared “when will I ever use this in real life?” and upon graduation promptly forgot everything you ever knew about them.

An adjective modifies, or describes, a noun (person, place or thing) – the old woman, the green grass, the frozen wasteland. An adverb modifies, or describes, a verb (an action word) – walk quickly, search frantically, sleep peacefully.

Our first exercise was just twenty minutes of free writing. You could hear the sighs of relief around the table at not having to dive right into the lesson. LOL

I actually work better from a prompt than being told to just write whatever you want, and I just happened to have this month’s prose prompt from Brazen Snake Books with me: A man running to catch a train/bus/cab drops a red rose. A woman picks it up, and finds a note wrapped around the stem.

Here’s what I came up with in the allotted time:

The train station was busy as usual. Catherine kept a death grip on her purse as she was buffeted by the sea of humanity.

“Oof!” One elbow jab to the side was particularly sharp. She opened her mouth to yell at the man who’d jostled her so rudely, but he was already too far away to hear. He was tall and dark haired, a business man by the look of him. He must be in an almighty hurry to get to wherever he was going, she thought, watching him elbow his way to the waiting train. Probably late for a meeting or something, although that was no excuse.

“Ha! Serves you right!” she said.

He’d tripped on the edge of the platform as he boarded the train, nearly losing his newspaper. Something else fell instead, something that had been nestled in the paper’s folds, and her last glimpse of him was the resigned look on his face as he stared down at the platform as the train pulled away.

The crowd was beginning to thin and curious, she worked her way towards the edge of the platform.

It was a long stemmed rose. She glance around but no one else appeared to notice it. Or if they did they didn’t care. Hesitantly, she bend down and picked it up. There was a note wrapped around the stem. With a shiver of excitement, she unfolded the paper.

I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that the next part of the assignment was to underline (using different kinds of lines) every noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. It made for quite a messy page, but it gave each of us an idea of the number of them used in our pieces.

What followed was a spirited discussion of words and word usage and upcharging a verb plus adverb. Example: instead of “she ran very fast,” you could simply say “she raced.” Or instead of “he talked very loudly” you could say “he shouted.”

Word choices, too, can be important because many words have more than one meaning. Like bark. It can mean the outer layer of a tree, or the noise a dog makes. Novel can be a book or something new – a novel experience.

When it comes to adjectives and adverbs, you need to keep three things in mind:
1. Are they needed?
2. Do they add to the story?
3. Could they be taken away?

For the next exercise we came up with a list of nouns and in a second column an adjective for each – shoe, expensive; bar, shiny; tea, green; watch, broken; space ship, dusty; table, solid; universe, limitless. Then the instructor mixed it up a bit by rearranging the order of the adjectives so we had: broken shoe; dusty bar; expensive tea; green watch; limitless space ship; shining table; solid universe. Then we were asked to chose two or three pairs of words and write a short piece.

You know me, I love a challenge. I managed to use all the pairs. But I’ll warn you, it makes better sense if you know who Doctor Who is. ;-)

I swaggered up to the dusty bar and ordered an expensive tea. The waiter who brought my drink over to the shiny table was wearing a broken shoe. I checked my green watch and realized I was out of time. The Doctor would be waiting for me in his limitless spaceship. Tossing back my tea, I threw a couple of bills onto the table and hurried away, eager to explore the solid universe.

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