The Morass of Modifiers – Ghostwriting and the Art of the Descriptive

The morass of modifiers is often the undoing of many novice writers.

Too many writers overuse and misuse modifiers, both adjectives and adverbs. Invariably, a single, strong modifier will be a more effective descriptor than a string of modifiers that serve to choke the reader’s imagination in much the same way that an elderly aunt’s overuse of perfume makes breathing near impossible.

The “hot, sticky, sundrenched, flower-scented and treacherous” pathway is much improved by fashioning the image with writing, rather than masking it with mere words. “The noon sun burned down on the small group as they made their way along the narrow, mountain path…” The one overburdens the poor pathway. The other creates a picture. Which furthers your story? Which is more enjoyable to read?

My advice is to delete every adverb from your writing and see your writing “magically” improve. (Yes, I know I used an adverb there.) In your sentences, choose one adjective rather than three. Best of all, attempt to write your sentence without any modifiers, using only strong verbs and nouns to convey the image you want. Then, judiciously, reintroduce the sharp spice of your modifiers (to taste!)

On a professional note, if you find your ghostwriter relies on the overuse of modifiers… get another ghostwriter! ASAP! Anyone can write a mediocre piece. If you are going to pay a professional to write your article, story or book make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

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