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The long-haired cat with a bushy reddish tail and green eyes strode across the rocky, wet ground while surveying the tall green-speckled bamboo.

Did you give up reading before getting to the end of that sentence? I needed a two-shot coffee just to write it!

There a grammatical norms that can explain why that lengthy sentence doesn’t work.

But I won’t burden you with explaining modifiers or interpretive vs descriptive adjectives. Let me just be blunt.

When you use too many adjectives, it is boring. Readers will almost certainly ‘lose the plot’ in more ways than one.

An editor can fix that problem for you, but what if you take responsibility at the beginning?

Let’s keep it simple. Give yourself an adjective allowance. Two adjectives per noun and one per verb (adverb). Maximum.

Shall we look at that sentence again with our new pocket allowance system?

The green-eyed cat strode across rocky ground, surveying the towering bamboo.

Or, if you want to be even cleaner:

The bamboo towered over the green-eyed cat.

Let the reader imagine that bushy tail and how that cat struts. Your job is done.

Tracey is a freelance developmental editor at Book Helpline. She’s blunt but offers kind criticism to help improve your book.

If you’re into adjectives, also read our article¬†about the royal order of adjectives.

[Photo by Rick Mason on Unsplash]

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