on a daily basis. As I work through the revision and finishing of ‘The Dry Well,’ I slaughter hundreds of innocent adjectives whose only crime was coming to my mind when I wrote the first draft.
They don’t look dangerous, do they? But I was born, it seems, with a mind that can’t leave a poor innocent noun alone, or with just one adjective for company. I blame my history teacher, who about 55 years ago praised me for a description of the retreat from Moscow that included this sequence; ‘Napoleon’s wretched, ragged, starving army.’ But that was long ago, and I am old enough to know better.
Collaboration with Alistair Mcgechie has been a blessing for me, as his style tends more naturally to the Chandleresque/Hemingwayesque terseness that allows the facts to speak for themselves. (Yes, ‘show don’t tell!’)
Joint editing consists to a degree, of Alistair suggesting I remove two out of every group of three adjectives that converges menacingly on an innocent noun, while I implore him it add one adjective per 3 pages, just for fun. It seems to work as most people say they can’t see the joins.
I don’t appear to have the same need to pile up adverbs.
My character may be small, thin, and terrified all at once, but I don’t force her to run outside quickly, quietly and correctly.
So that’s something to be grateful for.