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November 22 Activity: The Power of Using Specific Words in A Memoir

November 22 Activity: The power of using specific words in a memoir

For some reason, many writers feel that adjectives give details to their story.  They think of them as specific words. This may be true of some adjectives such as American or red. The same is not true of most adjectives. Some people think that an adjective here and there adds depth to a memoir. Alas, this is often not so. Many adjectives are really flabby words that pretend to say something but actually don’t add up to much meaning.

Today you will examine  adjectives.

Action Steps

Take a story you have in your files, print it out or simply leave it on you computer screen and go through it looking for adjectives. You will be highlighting adjectives with either a magic marker or the highlight function on your computer screen.

All adjectives that are general descriptions will be highlighted. Examples include: good plan, great day, wonderful dress and so forth. Can you discern how these adjectives gracious, great, and wonderful do not really convey much meaning?

Replace these general descriptives with very specific words. The new words do not have to be adjectives; they just need to be more precise: effective step-by-step plan, a day filled with play and rest and much intimate conversation, a peau-de-soie dress with a knee-length hem.

Using specific words in a memoir enables you to write a story inspired from your memory list.

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