Bev is a brilliant writer, and you should check out her blog on training for a marathon at the age of...um...over twenty-one...at One More Time, Bev for sheer entertainment value. If anyone can write a novel without pesky things like verbs, Bev can. However, mere mortals like you and me, dear readers...we should leave such projects to
I see a common flaw when I review manuscripts that are nearly, but not quite, ready for publication. The narrative feels flabby, and flabbiness often has its roots in the overuse of descriptors. Excess adjectives and adverbs are like fat. They obscure the lean muscularity of your prose. They jiggle when your story walks.
With that metaphor in mind, compare these two sentences:
"The saggy skin of her face hung loosely down her neck, floppy and pale."
"Her jowls jiggled when she walked."
Now, that first sentence isn't really terrible. It might even work, in the right story, provided the sentences in the immediate vicinity weren't equally flabby. It also might work if I cut out two of these four words: "saggy," "loosely," "floppy," or "pale."
But the second sentence jiggles. You can feel the motion of this large person. This sentence sets up a host of possibilities for characterization. Is she trudging through life, weighed down by burdens and by her very own body? Or is she upbeat, striding through this world and doing what must be done, aware that strangers sneer at her floppy jowls? I, for one, want to know.
When you edit your first draft, do a complete read-through with an eye toward word choice, particularly verbs and nouns. A sentence can exist without adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, interjections, and prepositions, but it ain't a sentence without a verb and (almost always) a noun. (Despite what Bev says.)
Never miss the opportunity to trade a weakly modified noun like "saggy skin" for "jowls." And never miss the opportunity to trade a flabby verb for a verb that jiggles.