A Collection of Thought Bubbles: Adverbs and Adjectives

Adverbs and Adjectives: The Delete-Button Duo

It seems as if there has been a sudden resurgence over the debate of the use of adverbs and adjectives in writing. Wasn’t it years ago when editors and readers alike clamored for the death of all adverbs? And yet, here is it again, found in style textbooks, agency websites, and even breaking the fourth wall by being mentioned in modern novels (1Q84, anyone?). Even Stephen King has been quoted saying, “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs.”

This is actually the reason why I decided to research this, seemingly, controversial issue.

Adverbs and Adjectives are considered filler words. Adverbs help add description to a sentence and modify nouns, adjectives, or even other adverbs by describing the how, when, why, or even the where of these words. Adjectives describe nouns, and are most often the “culprit” that writers seek to edit.

Common Adverbs: carefully, quickly, silently, then, now, because, in order to, nowhere, out, very, extremely, really

Common Adjectives: good, old, different, small, long, great, first

My first reaction to this “delete on sight” command was refusal. I feel like most authors find their voice and their style in descriptors, and even set the tone of a novel with specific word choice. How else do you paint the feel of the world for the audience? The word is the vessel through which our readers can travel to our worlds. Why would we want to limit our style or technical options? But, as I began to think further on the topic, I found it has merit.

Many writers are not fantasy authors, nor do they need to describe worlds or people in such grandiose fashion. And, too often, authors take adverb and adjective use to unnecessary levels. I’ve discovered this more often in fiction, where authors tend to drag on a description about something that either 1) does nothing to further the plot of the story, therefore damaging the readability of the novel, or 2) does not accurately capture the feel of the story or the characters. The first point is easy to spot for a reader, so they easily skip over certain passages. As authors we DEFINITELY don’t want this to happen, because it discourages our readers and prevents their immersion into the story. The second point, however, is what I believe editors really are trying to nix, because it creates discontinuity and shoddy storytelling. A lot of authors rely heavily on the substance of the story, not the storytelling, to get their message along, and editors are understandable flummoxed on how to fix this. It’s understandable that they’ve found it’s easier to give a blanketed rule (Kill Adverbs and Adjectives on Sight!). And in response, many writers take this as a green flag to go completely Hemingway and change the style of their novels.

I say, be careful when using adverbs and be deliberate when using adjectives. Don’t just throw them around willy-nilly because you need to make sure the reader knows that, “not only do the leaves on the trees have gold flecks on them, but they also have blue-ish veins that look purple in the moonlight and can be mistaken as poisonous.” Trust your reader to use their imagination and say instead, “at night, the leaves metallic sheen was lost against its dark veins.” And I say be careful with adverbs, because some of them are actually quite important. They drive home ideas and important differentiations that the reader could otherwise misconstrue. Is it more likely that “Andy finished the book first, angering Conner,” or is it more likely that “Andy finished the book, angering Conner.” You have to look at the context of the story being told and the characters.

All in all, superfluous words make for slow reading and do not allow the reader to enter the world that you made for them. Know your story and your characters and do not add what is not necessary. Don’t be afraid of editing your work, chances are you will forgot those words had ever been there after a second read through.

What about you guys? Do you find it hard to identify adverbs and adjectives? Does hitting that “delete” button cause more anxiety than it should? What are your most overused adverbs and adjectives?

Thanks for reading my first blog post on writing tips/discussion. I can’t wait to talk to you guys again soon 🙂

Live,
Morgan

Dare to Pair: Mimosas and Salad

Hey, everybody!

To get back into the swing of things, I figured I’d let you guys see an easy day wine and food pairing that anybody could do. I’m a HUGE fan of brunches and salads, and since my boyfriend and I were having a lazy, laundry-filled Sunday morning, I’d figured I’d treat myself to a delicious salad brunch complete with the one drink I’ve been craving: a mimosa!

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I knew exactly what sparkling wine I wanted to use (a beautiful Prosecco from Cavit called Lunetta), and so I decided to build a salad around that. The great thing about this brand is that they come in small bottles- I used a small, 187mL bottle for my single glass serving instead of opening an entire 750mL bottle for brunch. Sparkling wines usually lose their fizz withing a day if corked improperly and also lose their flavor within 3 days. I feel like the small bottles are just perfect, especially if you’re just treating yourself to an amazing brunch 🙂

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Now, salads are quite a challenge when it comes to pairing, because of all the options you have when it comes to building your salad. That’s partially why I decided to make it apart of this week’s “Dare to Pair.” The first thing I do when pairing salads is to start with the wine, because it tells us the most about a meal. We can begin with the acidity of the wine to tell us which toppings would work best, and in this case it is a highly acidic wine (sparklers tend to be acidic, and the addition of orange juice just makes it more so). So, naturally, we want to balance the acidity with something more neutral or alkaline. This means: raw veggies are our BEST friend! Next, I look at the body and consistency of the wine. Mimosa’s are known for being light and refreshing, so we could get away with pairing something that’s a little heavier but not too overpowering. In my opinion, this nixes the typical sources of protein, like chicken, red meat, or fish, but allows for a lot of other options like beans, meat-substitute, and light grains like rice.

So, to make my salad, I threw a couple of colorful bell peppers in there, bean sprouts, and red onions for my raw veggies. I also wanted to test a theory about grilled veggies; I used grilled zucchini and summer squash (perfect and in season!) to see if they would pair well, and also figured I’d try a fattier veggie like an avocado and even some falafel to see what paired well as a protein.

And for those curious, I used my typical dressing: a splash of olive oil and a dab of balsamic vinegar. I know this is also very acidic for the meal, but it honestly paired really deliciously with the mimosa. I only used a small amount of vinegar, so the taste wasn’t overpowering.

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The raw veggies were perfect with the drink, and even the avocado and falafel worked splendidly. No flavors were overpowered- I could taste everything in the Prosecco without losing the substance of the food. The only thing I wish I hadn’t thrown in there were the grilled veggies. They had a faint flavor of fish after I tried them with the mimosa, one that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I don’t know if maybe the orange juice that was the culprit, though, because sparkling wine is such a forgiving pairing drink. Either way, my suggestion is this: no mimosa’s paired with grilled zucchini.

So, on any hot, summer morning, I would highly recommend you build your own favorite salad and pair it with some great white wine. Do any of you have a favorite wine you’d like to try pairing? Or any tried-and-true duos for your lazy Sunday brunch? Let me know!

And until next time,

Live,

Morgan

Dare to Pair: Featuring Klinker Brick Zinfandel and BBQ Pulled Chicken

Hey, everyone!

I really hope you all had an amazing Fourth of July! I am so grateful- my holiday was chock full of filling food and good friends, and we even got to watch dueling firework shows! That is one of the thrilling parts of living in an apartment complex in the center of a sprawling city; you can always find a vantage point to watch at least three firework displays at once, and you’re never disappointed.

It’s been a while since I did a food and wine pairing, so I took this holiday as an occasion to treat myself and my friends to a special dinner. Well, it honestly wasn’t so special, but actually super fun and easy. You know when you fall across a recipe that just turns into a meal staple? That’s what happened when I stumbled upon Half Baked Harvest’s BBQ Pulled Chicken.

Food Prep and Goofy Grins
Food Prep and Goofy Grins

Each time I make this recipe, I tweak a spice here or there or try a different beer in the sauce. I honestly use half of the chili powder recommended (believe me, it’s more than enough) and the beer I used here, a local craft brew, has definitely been the best one yet. I’ve used a pumpkin beer, a summer wheat, and I even tried a nut brown ale at one point, but none of them were as complimentary as this one! It’s White Birch Brewery’s First Sparrow, a smokey Grodziskie style beer that is absolutely PERFECT paired with BBQ Sauce and the prominent spices. It’s a Spring seasonal at this brewery, and I could only find it in one local independent store in Londonderry, NH called The Drinkery.

America! Happy 4th!
America! Happy 4th!

The end result was a beautiful, tender pulled chicken, heavy on the heat. I used spinach and arugula for the greens, on the vine tomatoes, red onion, and fluffy potato rolls. Paired that with corn-on-the-cob (made the easiest way on Earth, in the microwave *gasp*) and seasoned french fries, and the meal was done. Of course, I followed it with traditional chocolate chip cookies, because I felt there aren’t many desserts more patriotic than homemade baked goods!

“But, wait!” You say! What about the wine?

Holy Grail Zin
Holy Grail Zin

Oh, yes, there’s wine! I figured, with all the heavy smoke and spices in the recipe, either a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel would pair well… and Zin is definitely the way to go (even though it is chicken, trust me!). This particular one, Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel, is so deep and delicious, it has the heavy fruit flavors and just the right amount of spicyness. It’s such a well balanced wine, any Zin that was mostly spice would probably over shadow the actual fresh spices in the food, and one that is too jammy would fall flat and it’s flavors would be hidden behind the meal. Instead, this one had a nice ZING upon swallowing when paired with the BBQ chicken, I would definitely definitely recommend it.

I hope this has given you guys a little idea of what to look for when pairing. I like to try different things and do experimental pairings, but really, this is one hell of a duo that goes together like Batman and Robin; absolute, unthinking perfection!

Until next time, I can’t wait to chat again!

Live,

Morgan

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