There is an empire built on the overuse and abuse of adjectives. ‘Descriptive words’ are the lifeblood of school English classes. It’s a safe assumption that from the time we first start writing our own creative stuff, we are encouraged by our teachers and parents (well-meaning editors that they are) to make our work ‘colourful’, to add a plethora of rich, perfumed and full-fat adjectives that apparently enhance our poetry and prose. The empire extends further and includes vampires who burn the pages of young adult fiction and who catch innocent and unsuspecting readers in their nets of repressed and unresolved sexuality. Romance and horror can easily be fed by the juicy overuse of adjectives, and with regular frequency some 700-page book, saturated with melodrama and mindlessly overwritten, makes it onto the bestseller list. But those books do not pass the time test. They vanish quickly into oblivion.
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