Today I want to talk about modifiers, but refrain from giving a lecture in grammar. Modifiers are words that basically are unnecessary (from a grammar point of view), they add scent and color to the language. The two most important ones are adjectives (modifying the meaning of nouns) and adverbs (modifying adjectives and verbs). There are other modifiers as well (you can for instance look back at our kenning challenge to take a look at compound nouns. But this is not about grammar at all.. it’s about color.
Many times in writing courses we are taught to avoid modifiers as we often can use a more precise word instead. For instance it means almost the same thing to say a Ferrari as saying an expensive Italian sportscar, but calling it a Ferrari gives us all the associations we might have with that car, that would need a huge number of modifiers to describe. The same is even more true for verbs, as Victoria have taught us.
So … modifiers should not be used we are taught. Modifiers is spice to be by used in moderation.
But, whenever I see a rule, I want to challenge it and do the opposite. I want to walk darkly and drink heroic beer, what is a subtle knife? I want to add the flavors and the scent into the language. I want to feast on spicy food.
For today’s challenge I want you to do one or even two things.
– For most of your verbs and nouns try to use at least one modifier.
– Try to choose unlikely combinations that create something new.
As an example of the latter, consider the following from Allen Ginsberg, The green automobile.
He’d come running out
to my car full of heroic beer
and jump screaming at the wheel
for he is the greater driver.
Heroic beer, what a wonderful way to do something else with beer.
So let us play with this and break the rules and celebrate those hated modifiers.
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