April 24, 2021: Poetry Writing Prompt – Ellaraine Lockie

This poetry writing prompt submitted by Ellaraine Lockie:

An Adjective Exercise

Mark Twain said about writing, “If you see an adjective, kill it!” I agree with him for the most part if you are writing with publication in mind. Adjectives are bossy. Much more effective in both poetry and prose is to write in a way that allows your reader to come up with the adjective. Readers prefer to be empowered and will like your writing better for it. It’s an extension of showing instead of telling.

Here are some adjective execution steps I suggest:

  1. Don’t worry about adjectives in first drafts, as it can slow down your creative process.
  1. After the piece is fairly finished and you’re happy with the content, do an adjective search. Every time you find one, see if you can come up with a way to describe the adjective in lieu of writing it, therefore prompting the reader to come up with the actual adjective. Comparisons, similes and metaphors can be good replacements for adjectives.

3. Here are a few examples for avoiding adjectives:

Instead of  “a dilapidated house, write “a hundred years old with Alzheimer’s.”

Instead of  “her scaled hands,” write “her hands the texture of a lizard.”

Substitute creative use of nouns for adjectives:

“The sky a foxed gray.”

“Car turtled on its back.”

“Eyeshadow a hummingbird blue.”

Now go and play some adjective word games with your readers in mind. It’s fun!

If you write a poem from this prompt, post it as a comment underneath the prompt in the Poetry Super Highway Facebook Group.