Too Much Salt Kills the Broth

It is a fact that, when writing descriptions, less is more. If you overload your descriptions with too many adjectives and pile them on, the reader’s eyes glaze over. I’m one of those readers who mutters,” Oh, for heaven’s sake,” and skips whole paragraphs or even pages.

I once read three paragraphs at the beginning of a book about the moon. The author was in love with moonrise and she just couldn’t shut up.

I just couldn’t continue.

Another funny thing is the F word. It has the effect of making words and even thoughts disappear. Too many F words in a paragraph and your eyes glaze over and you come to the conclusion that there isn’t a cogent – or sane – thought in the entire paragraph.

Most people, however, who use the F word liberally think that it peppers their words, gives emphasis to their ideas, and makes people pay attention.

It does the exact opposite.

It’s like salting a good broth too much. It ruins it.

14 thoughts on “Too Much Salt Kills the Broth”

    • I just found a manuscript I’d forgotten about, Jeff. It’s quite large which is why it surprised me to have forgotten it. In the very first line I used the F word (which is, regrettably, not fudge). I think I’ll keep it in. (Shocking little ol’ me.)

  1. It is lovely to get a description of places and things. But, I am not thrilled to get many descriptions about actions, thoughts, places and things which eliminate actions. I would prefer to read about conversations, actions, activities and events not descriptions of those things.

    And descriptions do not have to be filled with big fat impressive words when plain language will do. If I want to know how smart someone is, how well educated they are or all they know, then send me their auto-biography. I start a book because the characters and plot interest me, not because the author is a whiz at using many big words.

    Also, I do understand that people use strong language when their emotions run high. But, using the F word to describe a good cup of coffee, or a sunset, nah just too much for me.

    I was told long ago that when someone had to use curse words all the time, it showed that their knowledge of language was limited.

    • In my first four or five books I probably went description nuts. I was suffering from new writer-itis. I wanted people to SEE what I was seeing, not understanding the basics of reading/writing. No one will ever SEE what you see. A reader will bring his/her own life experiences to a book. They can come close to understanding what you want them to experience, but it won’t be exact. Nor will writing pages of description help, either.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the use and overuse of the f word. I recently read a book that had a potentially great storyline, only to be bombarded with the f word on almost every other page. I have another by the same author but may not even read it because of the experience with this book. A real shame because the storyline was so good, the only reason I finished it. I gave two stars in my review because of the language.

    • I don’t know real people who use the F word all that much. We might say damn or hell or even the S word, but not the F word and definitely not motherf*****. Hello?

  3. I just read a new author that I probably won’t be reading again. She was so proud that she did research on the regency era that she went on and on and on with descriptions and words she thought the reader should know so she constantly repeated them. All I could think of while reading is her saying to herself, “look how much I know” lol. Oh, and I am a reader who enjoys descriptions most of the time.

    • She’s probably suffering from new writer-itis. It’s a condition that is born from fear. You really do want people to know that you know what you’re talking about, so you probably go overboard. After awhile you begin to relax, but it takes a few books. I know it did for me. 🙂

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