This week’s quick and dirty lesson: breaking up with adjectives and adverbs

It was a dark and stormy night. The velvety blackness enfolded me like a lost child crying hopelessly for the soft comfort of its stuffed toy and the fierce lightning and terrifying thunder rendingly shattered the humid sticky dark post-midnight air.

Yeah, that was pretty awful.

If you submit something like it, you can probably expect a love letter from me with a gentle reminder or two.  (For those of you who have already gotten love letters, thank you! I know it’s not easy to hear “this wasn’t good enough for the grid this week.” I have never been part of a community that takes critique so graciously, and I am still amazed by you all.)

I know we all want to be more descriptive writers. The kind of writers that can turn a “guess you had to be there” into an “it felt like I was right there with you.” Ironically, the way to get there is probably not with more adjectives. Before you pack your post with extra words, go back and ask yourself if you’re adding a description or a distraction. Did you glare angrily or are glares angry by default? Did Johnny shout loudly, or is a shout already loud enough?

Of course, sometimes you need that adjective or adverb. Maybe your sister glared sweetly at you over the dinner table as you handed Mom a report card that was better than hers.  Maybe Johnny is a toddler discovering the upper range limits of his voice, and his discussion of why he couldn’t have the toy in the checkout line was performed in a glass-shattering, operatic shriek.  Used sparingly, descriptors create the images which keep your readers interested and help move the action of your story forward. Overuse feels like a slog through the mud and slows everything down.

As a special bonus, leaving out all those extra words will help you hit your word count!

Yeah write, the speakeasy, the gargleblaster and the moonshine grid all in one place every Sunday

Every Sunday, we kick off a new week of challenges. If you’re not already a subscriber, sign up here to receive our weekly email blasts, and be one of the first to know what to expect for the week. We also detail the week in a tidy Sunday kickoff post, written by our managing editor Christine, while congratulating the winners from our previous challenges. Stop by if you get the chance. It’s good stuff.

Is this your first time here? Welcome!

Did you follow the link from the badge on a friend’s blog? Welcome! Please check out our submission guidelines, then jump right in. We’d love to have you.

Did you land here out of curiosity because you saw a whole bunch of hits from yeah write in your stats? Welcome! That means somebody at yeah write stumbled over your post, thought it was a good fit for us, and submitted your post for consideration. We hope you don’t mind!

If you like, please grab the challenge badge from our sidebar, install it using the HTML view of your post, then visit the other entries on the grid. Did we mention there will be a vote for the best submissions on Thursday? That’s the fun part. Please stick around.

Let’s open the invitational grid this week!

Why don’t we use our social media for good instead of evil this week and recruit our writing/blogging friends to the challenge grid? If we hit 30 entries, we will unlock the invitational grid, which is exactly what it sounds like: a separate grid, by invitation only, for editors to build by adding their favorites. It’s a separate grid voted on only by the editors who will then select a jury prize from the selections. If you know a few people who’ve been meaning to try us out, this would be a great week to convince them what good people we are. Thanks!

Kevin the kiwi and Comment Bob

Everyone knows Kevin by now! He’s that stylish kiwi with the scarf and hat, rooting around for an exceptional post on the grid. When we have fewer than 30 posts entries in the challenge, a randomly selected editor will choose her favorite post and award that post the week’s kiwi badge. This week, though, we want Kevin to take a little break while we award the jury prize instead!

Comment Bob flies through your open window at night and leaves pom-poms under your pillow when you are the reader leaving the most thoughtful comments on each entry on the challenge grid. Just kidding. Penguins can’t fly. The part about the pom-poms, though, completely true, so please make it a point to participate in our community as a writer, reader, voter and commenter. We call it a challenge for a reason, and making the rounds to all the other blogs is a very large part of it.

More entries means more votes

The crowd favorite is determined by a moderated popular vote. That means it’s never a clicking contest. We expect our readers to vote for the best on the challenge grid based on technical and artistic merit. here’s the scale:

  • 01-10 submissions: one vote
  • 11-20 submissions: two votes
  • 21-30 submissions: three votes
  • 31-40 submissions: four votes
  • 41-50 submissions: five votes

The more submissions, the more votes. Write a blurb beside your yeah write challenge button inviting your friends to join us. Send a personal email. Talk us up in your writing circles. Stumble over a blog post you think would be perfect for the challenge grid? Email us the link, and if it’s a good fit, we’ll add it ourselves.

Odds, ends, reminders

  • The badge you will need to add to your planned submission is over in the sidebar
  • This immediate past Sunday is the earliest your submission can be dated
  • Your post can be no longer than 600 words: it’s 500 words plus 100 words grace
  • Personal essays or traditional blog anecdotes only
  • There are no mandatory weekly prompts; the topic is yours. Be compelling
  • The grid is open from Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.
  • There is voting. Voting will take place Thursday from midnight to 10:00 p.m. US eastern
  • The challenge grid is limited to 50 bloggers
  • The winners’ post will be published by noon on Friday
  • No commercial, sponsored or self-promotional posts are allowed on the yeah write grid, including those containing links to other blog events and Internet contests

Voting is open at the gargleblaster! If you have a chance, stop by, read all the 42-word entries, then vote on the best three of the gargleblaster grid. It’s yeah write’s newest challenge, and we’re quite proud of it!

Yeah write #165 traditional challenge grid is open right here…


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