A few years ago, I had the pleasure of sharing my experiences as a writer at a “Career Day” in an elementary school (see Young Writers). There, an adorable little boy asked me whether I used “juicy adjectives” in my writing. What a fantastic phrase!
I thought of this today while rereading Tender Is the Night, the novel that author F. Scott Fitzgerald considered his favorite creation. Page after page is starred with improbable yet incredibly evocative descriptive words. Surely F. Scott must be ranked among the masters of the juicy adjective! Consider some of these gems:
“Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach.”
“Her eyes were bright, big, clear, wet, and shining,”
“…a robin-breasted sailing boat pulled in behind it a strand from the outer, darker sea.”
“and as the whole system swayed and thundered onward, it lent a feverish bloom…”
Deferential palms. Robin-breasted sailing boat. Feverish bloom. Just look at these arresting adjectives and ponder the way in which they command our attention and shock us into thinking differently about the world we see — palm trees, sailboats, and a young woman’s lovely eyes.
When I look at F. Scott’s creative use of colorful adjectives, it challenges me to push myself to come up with more exciting and innovative words to summon up the world that I’m building in my YA novel. That’s what reading great writers can do: inspire us to write more dangerously and leave our comfort zone behind. Write on!