SATW: 60 Second Travel Writer #5 – Descriptors

computer keyboard

catharine hamm 1The English language has millions of words – a veritable buffet. But like a buffet, sometimes we overindulge.

Here’s a 60-Second Travel Writer Tip from LA Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm:

Strong verbs and nouns are keys to great prose. Adjectives and adverbs are not always your friends. If you’re writing about a jungle, there’s probably no need to describe it as a “lush, green jungle,” unless it isn’t. Same with describing a nuclear explosion as powerful – or winter in the Artic Circle as frigid—unless it isn’t.

Which evokes the livelier image:  traffic that moved very slowly or traffic that crawled? A vendor that loudly called out his prices or a vendor who shouted them? A sun that reflects brightly off the snow or snow that glistens?

By choosing a strong noun or verb, you also save words, which makes you a hero to an editor and, more important to a busy reader.

In the next installment, we’ll talk about being your own editor. For SATW professional development, I’m Westways Travel Editor Elizabeth Harryman.