Because writing should be fun

Are You Looking For Perfect Minions?

Are you looking for perfect minions? Perhaps you’re a necromancer whose rivals are constantly trying to assassinate you, perhaps you’re an apprentice who’s trying to overthrow her master, or perhaps you’re a bureaucrat who needs protection from rampaging carnivorous plants. Whoever you are, a clan of ninja rats that can turn invisible is perfect for your minion needs!

These fiendishly clever and terrifying determined rodents offer a wide range of services at very competitive prices (room and board, gold, and access to the kitchens are a must, and having an apprentice who thinks rodents are awesome is highly recommended):

  • Anti-assassination and assassination measures. The rats are expert assassins themselves, which also makes them ideally suited for dealing with would-be assassins. Besides, no one ever expects invisible ninja rats. No one.
  • Culinary expertise. These rodents can cook up a feast fit for a king at a cost that even a pauper can afford. They are even willing to advise any cooks you already have, provided they can tolerate rats in the kitchen.
  • Intelligence and counter-intelligence services. Do you need spies? Are you worried about spies? Who better to spy for you and make sure no one else spies on you than ninja rats that can turn invisible? These cunning rats can infiltrate even the most heavily guarded compound to uncover your enemy’s plans. Then you can do something fun, like smuggle a hydra into your enemy’s office. If that doesn’t get their attention, nothing will.
  • Home maintenance and repair skills. Due to the varied nature of their previous employment, this clan of ninja rats are skilled in most forms of home maintenance and repair. They can trim your gardens, handle any pests, and even fix your roof. All you need to do is to supply the materials and assist with some of the heavy lifting, which shouldn’t be a problem for anyone with an army of zombies at their command.
  • Weapons development and mechanical research. Ninjas need the right tools and equipment in order to succeed, so these rats are always working on something. Whether its powerful explosives, parachutes, or electrified metal wire, they have whatever you need.

So if you’re looking for perfect minions, consider recruiting a clan of invisible ninja rats. You won’t regret it.

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Note: The clan of ninja rats that can turn invisible appear in Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf and Two Necromancers, an Army of Golems, and a Demon Lord.

For The Love Of Writing

I’ve been asked on many occasions about what makes a good writer. The most obvious answer is talent. Surely, there are people out there who are just blessed with so much talent that everything they write is awesome and wonderful and good.


I won’t lie to you, talent does exist, but it’s not the key to becoming a good writer, not even close. In my opinion, the thing most likely to make someone a good writer is very simple: they love writing.

But how can this be? How can simple love of writing overcome talent. Writing is a skill, and like all skills how good you become at it depends on both your talent and your hard work.

If you love writing, then you’ll do the hard work. You’ll take the criticism you get and improve from it, even if it hurts sometimes. You’ll spend hours revising something you’ve written just to make it that little bit better because in your eyes, it’s worth it. And you’ll drive yourself nuts over how to piece together a story because you love writing and can’t imagine giving it up.

If you have talent but you don’t like writing, you’ll give up when things get hard, and they will get hard. Maybe not at first, maybe not for a while, but sooner or later, every writer hits a wall. If you don’t like writing, you’re going to stare at that wall which looks higher than Mt Everest and just walk away because that’s an option for you. If you love writing, really love it, you’re going to throw yourself at that wall like a maniac and climb it, even if it drives you crazy.

Talent may trump hard work at the start, but writing isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. How much hard work does it take to overcome the advantage that talent gives someone? It take more than an hour. What about a hundred hours? Maybe. What about a thousand hours? Now, we’re taking. And what about ten thousand hours?

Is there any amount of writing talent that can’t be overcome with enough practice and hard work? I don’t think there is. And being talented won’t make you practice and work hard. Loving writing will.

So don’t get stuck thinking that talent is everything. It isn’t. If you love writing, writing will love you back. You’ll stick with it long after other people have given up, and you’ll keep on improving long after other people have plateaued, and one day, you’ll find yourself looking down from the top of the mountain at everyone else who walked away because they didn’t love writing as much as you did, and the view will be pretty damn nice.

And, remember, you’re not alone. There are plenty of people climbing that mountain with you, and they all love writing too.

Is Your Apprentice Planning To Overthrow You?

If you’re a necromancer with your own castle, beneath which are lightless chasms of endless horror and despair (not to mention beings of a distinctly inter-dimensional nature that want to obliterate the world), then you need to ask yourself a very important question: is your apprentice planning to overthrow you? If you think that your apprentice might be planning to overthrow you, here are five signs that you’re about to be overthrown:

  1. Katie She cackles whenever she sees you. It is perfectly all right if you and your apprentice enjoy a good cackle when you’re together, especially if you’ve just crushed/robbed one of your mortal enemies. But if your apprentice is cackling for what appears to be no good reason when she sees you, be careful. Your days may be numbered.
  2. She constantly talks to her ninja rats when she thinks you’re not around but stops talking to them when you make your presence known. Ninja rats are scary. Some of them can also turn invisible. All of them are handy with pointy objects. Sleep with one eye open.
  3. She offers you a mug full of whiskey right before you put together your newest abomination. Necromancy and alcohol do not mix. In fact, alcohol is one of the leading causes of zombie-related fatalities amongst necromancers. Never drink while breaking the laws of nature.
  4. She starts asking you what clothes you’d prefer to be buried in. Sure, she might say its only a precaution, but you should know better. More than 75% of necromancers who aren’t killed by their own creations, priests, paladins, or angry mobs meet their ends at the hands of their apprentices. Stay vigilant.
  5. She “accidentally” swipes at your head with shadows sharp enough to cut through solid rock. She’s your apprentice for a reason – because she’s very, very good. Thus, the odds of her accidentally doing anything are very small. Invest in some magic-resistant armour.

If your apprentice is planning to overthrow you, stay calm. Remember, they can’t overthrow you until they’re certain they’ve learned all they can from you. Appear wiser and more knowledgeable than you really are, and you’ll be perfectly fine. Maybe.

– Timothy Walter Bolton, Grand Necromancer and Lord of Black Tower Castle

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Note: Timmy and his apprentice, Katie, are both characters from my original fiction series, The Unconventional Heroes Series. Timmy is a necromancer trying to earn a pardon for his years of fairly harmless villainy (harmless in that he usually spends most of his time going after fairly horrible people) while Katie is his precocious ten-year-old apprentice who may or may not be planning to overthrow him. And, yes, there are ninja rats. And, yes, they can turn invisible.

The Last Huntress Free Today On Amazon (Sunday 21st June, Pacific Standard Time)

The Last Huntress will be available for free on Amazon today (Sunday 21st June, Pacific Standard Time). Get it here. If you enjoy fantasy with a healthy dose of atmosphere and action, give it a try! Here’s the blurb:

Scarlett is the last of her line – a huntress sworn to kill all monsters.

Rose is a girl searching for the power to take back her homeland.

In the icy forests of the north, on the trail of the only werewolf to escape her, Scarlett will teach Rose what it means to be a huntress. There can be no room for softness in a huntress’s heart, no room for weakness. And a huntress must be willing to kill anything – and anyone – that poses a threat to the innocent.

If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry. You can download a free Kindle app from Amazon from here.

You can find the rest of my original fiction here.

If you do enjoy The Last Huntress, there’s plenty more for you to read. It’s only the first part of the series, and there’s currently a total of four parts available. Of course, if you’re in the mood for something humorous, you could always give Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf a try.

On The Relationship Between Theory And Experiment

A theory is a set of propositions or beliefs that is used to account for or explain a particular phenomena. However, multiple theories can (and often are) proposed to account for a given phenomena, which makes being able to distinguish between competing theories extremely important.

But how are we to choose between competing theories? Presumably, there is one theory that is better than the others, which is the one we should select. One possibility is to simply accept whichever theory appears to be the most plausible. However, just because a theory is implausible does not mean that it is wrong. Indeed, some of the most important theories in science seem quite implausible at first glance (consider e.g., some of the stranger implications of relativity).

What is required is a systematic way of comparing competing theories that allows us to identify their relative merits. The method that science typically uses for this purpose is the experimental method. At the heart of the experimental method is the idea that a good theory should not only explain existing data but also predict the results of future experiments. This is a subtle but exceedingly important point.

Imagine that we have several competing theories that all seek to explain a particular phenomena. Assuming that all of these theories were developed in good faith, each of them should be able to account for existing data. Otherwise, they would be unable to explain the phenomena at all.

What separates these competing theories are the mechanisms and processes that each uses to explain the phenomena. And it is these mechanisms and processes that can be used to make predictions, which can then be tested by conducting experiments. Whichever theory is best supported by the results of the experiments is the one we accept as being closer to the truth.

To see why this must be so, consider a theory that offers a sublimely elegant explanation for a particular phenomena while also making several key predictions. Experiments are carried out, and every single one of the those key predictions is not only wrong but incredibly wrong. Regardless of how elegant the theory appears, it would be difficult to say it was actually any good.

Remember, the predictions a theory makes should be based on the mechanism and processes it uses to explain the phenomena in question. If those proposed mechanisms and processes cannot make any accurate predictions, then how can they be correct? And if they are not correct, what good is the theory? The answer is that the theory is not good because the processes and mechanisms its relies upon to explain the phenomena are not supported by the available evidence.

The point I am trying to get at is this: the experiments used to test a theory are, in essence, attempts to determine whether or not there is evidence in favour of the mechanisms and processes that theory relies upon to explain a particular phenomena. Failure to find this evidence suggests that the theory may be false.

We must also be careful even when experiments appear to support a particular theory (i.e., the results of the experiments match the predictions made by the theory). This is because different theories that rely upon different mechanisms and processes can sometimes make the same predictions. However, the more predictions are tested, the less likely it is that two theories will make the same predictions for all those tests (i.e., all of those experiments). When two theories make many similar predictions, the key is to develop an experiment around a prediction in which they differ.

Now, the explanation I’ve given so far is, in many ways, a simplification, one that assumes that the experiment was carried out properly. If we do not make this assumption, then there may be several reasons that a theory’s predictions are not supported by the results of experiments.

Let us assume that a theory’s predictions are not supported by experiments. Here are two ways that result could be interpreted.

  1. The experiments were conducted properly; the theory is not supported by the evidence.
  2. The experiments were conducted improperly; it is not possible to say if the theory is supported by the evidence or not.

The second outcome is of particular importance. Imagine that you are testing a particular theory’s prediction about the amount of radiation given off by a nuclear reactor. The theory predicts that the nuclear reactor should give off a certain amount of radiation, but the experiment suggests that it actually gives off considerably less radiation. But what if the instrument used to detect radiation is faulty? If this is the case, then the theory has not been properly tested by the experiment, and no firm conclusions can be drawn about it.

This may seem like a trivial example, but it has massive implications in areas like sociology and psychology. In the physical sciences (e.g., physics and chemistry), it is generally possible to measure a particular attribute directly. For instance, we can use a ruler to measure length or a geiger counter to measure radiation. Thus when a theory makes a prediction about something like length or radiation, we can be fairly confident that the results of our experiment are meaningful (presuming we use proper equipment and a well-designed experiment).

Now consider an attribute like intelligence or extraversion. Setting aside definitional issues, how are we to measure intelligence or extraversion? Intellect and personality attributes like extraversion do not have obvious physical correlates that are directly amenable to measurement. Instead, we must infer the level of someone’s intelligence or extraversion through their behaviour (e.g., a smarter person should be better at problem solving and an extroverted person should be more outgoing).

What this means is that instead of using things like rulers of geiger counters, we are forced to use things like intelligence tests and personality surveys. But using such instruments involves a very, very big assumption: that these instruments adequately reflect the constructs (i.e., concepts) they are trying to measure. If our intelligence tests does not actually measure intelligence, then people’s scores on it are essentially meaningless.

And this is where things get ugly.

Constructs like intelligence are, by their nature, highly contentious. What is intelligence? If you ask different people you are likely to get different answers, so how are we to decide which definition is correct? The definition matters because the definition decides what we include in an intelligence test. If we believe problem solving is part of intelligence, our intelligence tests will include problem solving. If we do not believe problem solving is part of intelligence, our intelligence tests won’t include it. How we see intelligence (or virtually any psychological construct/concept) heavily influences how we attempt to measure it.

Let us return now to my earlier remarks about experimental testing, and in particular, let us return to what I said about what happens when an experiment does not support the predictions made by a theory. Imagine that a theory of intelligence has made a prediction that intelligence should be associated with workplace performance.

According to this prediction, intelligence scores should be positively correlated with workplace performance (i.e., higher intelligence scores should be associated with better workplace performance). Now imagine if this prediction is not supported by an experiment.

On one hand, we could interpret this to mean that intelligence has nothing to do with workplace performance. But on the other hand, it could also be possible that the researcher’s conception of intelligence is flawed. That is, the way they view intelligence is wrong. If this is the case, then their intelligence tests are founded on the wrong model of intelligence, which explains why no correlation was found (i.e., the instrument they are using to measure intelligence is faulty, so the experiment was not conducted properly).

If we assume that it is the researcher’s conception of intelligence that is wrong, what can be done? The logical next step is to find the correct model of intelligence and use that to build a better intelligence test. But how are we to know that we’ve found the correct model of intelligence? That is where things get tricky (and potentially ugly) since we have to make more assumptions. For example, if we assume that intelligence is involved in certain behaviours (e.g., school performance, workplace performance, memory, etc.), then the best model of intelligence is the one that properly predicts performance across those behaviours.

If this sounds complicated and weird compared to experimentation in the physical sciences, it is because it is. Sociology and psychology, by their very nature, often deal with phenomena that are not currently accessible to direct physical measurement (e.g., it is not inconceivable that neural correlates to intelligence measures might be found, but that has not yet occurred to a level that permits direct physical measurement).

This results in a curious change in the relationship between theory and experiment. In the physical sciences, a theory makes predictions that can often be verified through relatively direct measurement. Lack of support for those predictions can thus be interpreted as lack of support for the theory (presuming that the tests and measurements involved were accurately performed). In a field like psychology, the lack of direct measurement means that a theory’s failure to make accurate predictions may be the result of either the theory being wrong or the constructs involved in the theory being conceptualised incorrectly.

In other words, the following hypothetical situation can be true: intelligence may indeed predict workplace performance very well, but experiments to examine that issue may show the opposite if the incorrect conception of intelligence is used. This situation exists because the physical sciences can, more often than not, rely upon relatively direct measures of phenomena (e.g., length, mass, etc. can be measured with reasonable directness and accuracy).

In contrast, psychological phenomena (and similar phenomena) do not have direct physical correlates yet, making their measurement much more difficult since researchers do not even know if the instruments (e.g., psychological tests) they are using in their experiments are even accurate or meaningful. This is why psychology and related fields often discuss notions of validity and reliability to a far greater extent that other sciences. They simply cannot be as confident in their instruments as fields like physics or chemistry (with some exceptions, e.g., the psychology of perception can generally rely upon direct physical measurements).

The relationship between theory and experiment is thus simple at times and complicated at others. At its core, however, is a fairly simple but powerful suggestion: a theory should make predictions, and a good theory’s predictions should be supported by the results of experiment.

A Quick Word On Personality Dynamics In Fiction

This is a topic that I’ll definitely come back to in more detail at some point, but I just want to say a few quick things about personality dynamics in fiction.

There are many components to a good story, but having good characters is a big step in the right direction. But what makes a good character? One of the most important aspects of a good character is depth. A character with depth feels real to the readers and comes across as someone with their own personality, motivations, and desires, as opposed to just a cardboard cutout.

One of the most effective ways to establish a character’s depth is to show the reader different aspects of that character, and this is where personality dynamics comes into play. Personality dynamics is all about how the personalities of each character interact with the personalities of the other characters.

Consider a situation in which a highly-strung, extremely routine-oriented person is forced to deal repeatedly with a laid-back person who enjoys improvising. The reader will learn a lot more about these two characters when they’re put together than they would if they were kept apart. Likewise, the interplay between a cold-hearted person and someone with a kinder outlook is another staple of fiction because of how effective it is at teasing out the nuances of each character (e.g., are there situations where the cold-hearted character is willing to be kinder, or are there situations where the kinder person is much colder?).

The importance of personality dynamics cuts across all genres. It is present in thrillers, typically in the interplay between the protagonist and the antagonist, who often share many similarities but also have several key differences. It is present in science fiction and fantasy, where villains and heroes often occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. And, of course, it is present in humour, with the odd-couple set up being a staple of the genre.

This is why having a broad variety of different personalities in a story can help so much. When different personalities are brought into contact, there is going to be conflict, compromise, and adaptation, all of which further flesh out the characters in a story.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on writing, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.

How Not To Run A Dinosaur Theme Park

Are you a billionaire with way too much time on your hands? Do you want to bring nature’s greatest killing machines back to life? Do you think that the only thing cooler than playing tag with a lion on safari is playing tag with a giant dinosaur? Then you’re in luck because today, I’ll be talking about how not to run a dinosaur theme park.

  • Genetically engineer a super dinosaur. Make sure it is carnivorous. It’s not enough that the dinosaurs were some of the largest, most vicious predators to ever walk the earth. Today, we can make them even larger and more vicious. Why stop with a T-Rex when you can combine a T-rex with a velociraptor and whatever else catches your fancy? For added fun, you might as well tape on a few lasers and missile launchers. There’s nothing cooler than a giant, murderous dinosaur with lasers… except a giant murderous dinosaur with lasers and a jetpack.
  • Have no real weaponry at your theme park. Is your theme park packed full of wonderfully deadly carnivores? If it is then don’t bother with proper weaponry. There’s no need to give park security useful weapons like grenade launchers, armour piercing rounds, machine guns, and attack helicopters when you could be giving them Tasers and nets. After all, when the aforementioned super dinosaur escapes, what would you rather be fighting it with: a helicopter with missiles or a net gun?
  • Invite as many children as possible to the park. Children make ideal dinosaur food and can easily be carried away by winged predators. That is exactly why you should invite them. In the event that the park’s animals escape, the adults will surely survive while the children are devoured.
  • Build walls that are exactly as tall as the dinosaurs they are supposed to contain. Careful paleontological research has revealed that dinosaurs cannot jump or climb. Really, they can’t. At least we hope not.
  • Have no evacuation plan for when things go wrong. If your park can hold roughly 20,000 visitors, then there’s no need for a proper evacuation plan. Instead, just have a couple of ferries and hope for the best. Besides, most of them will probably get eaten when things go wrong anyway.
  • Make plenty of winged dinosaurs. Its too easy to take care of things that can’t fly. Add some spice to your park security’s life by letting them deal with winged death machines that are bigger than people.
  • Invite the military to help you train your dinosaurs. Nothing can possibly go wrong with letting the military get involved with your dinosaurs. They just want to make sure that everyone’s favourite killing machines are nice and healthy. It has nothing to do with taking the aforementioned killing machines and training them to be, well, killing machines.

Things I Wish People Would Include When They Write Smut

Smutty fiction is very serious business. Well written smut can leave a reader feeling all hot and bothered, but poorly written smut can leave a reader in hysterics. To help make your life as a writer a little easier, here are a few things that you should prioritise when you are writing smut.

  • Sex is basically combat. Tongues duel for dominance. People writhe and scream. There are copious amounts of bodily fluids. To make your smut stand out, take this analogy a little further. Why have tongues merely duel for dominance when tongues can engage in complicated bouts of oral jiu jitsu (complete with accurate terminology)? And why use words like “thrust” when you could be using words like “impale” or “eviscerate” instead? Sure, it might sound scary, but isn’t scary smut the best smut?
  • Sufficiently smutty vocabulary is key. Instead of simply recycling the same old euphemisms for various body parts/bodily functions, why not try to get through as many as you can in one passage? Variety is the spice of life and nothing is more erotic than needing a dictionary to understand who is doing what to whom.
  • Realistic smut is for cowards. Why should we constrain ourselves to writing smut that is actually within the bounds of human physical ability? Everyone should have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast, the human body should produce unlimited bodily fluids, and characters should be able to engage in sexual intercourse for periods long enough to result in multiple organ failure in real people.
  • Metaphor is key. Rather than simply describing the realities of sexual intercourse, well written smut should endeavour to change the reader’s very perception of reality with metaphors that liken sex to the very foundations of creation, from the birth of stars and the evolution of bacteria into complex life forms to the drilling of oil wells and the building of vast cities that touch the sky. Why save florid prose for fantasy and science fiction when we could be applying it to smut?
  • Quantity and quality both matter. There is a common misconception that smut should focus primarily on quality. Wrong. The more smut a story has, the better. There should be smut dripping from every page. Even a mere trip to the supermarket should include at least several scenes of physically improbable (and anatomically impossible) sex.

Hopefully, these tips can help you write better smut. If you’re ever in doubt about whether the smut you’ve written is any good or not, I suggest you take it to the dinner table and read it to your family. After all, there’s nothing quite like a second opinion.

If you want to read more about my (more serious) thoughts on writing, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.

Is Your Dragon Awesome Enough?

Dragons have a long history of being completely awesome, so it’s tempting to include one whenever you write a fantasy story. But is your dragon awesome enough? If you’re not sure, here are a few hints to help you along:

  • Is your dragon ridiculously huge? A small dragon is a lame dragon. Go big or go home. Sure, it’s kind of cool if your dragon can swallow a cow whole, but it’s even better when it’s big enough to stomp cities and blot out the sun.
  • Does your dragon have an obvious weak spot? If dragons were easy to kill, they wouldn’t be so cool. They would also be extinct since humanity, as a general rule, does not like flying things that eat people and breathe fire. If your dragon has a weak spot it should be somewhere difficult to reach or hard to take advantage of. How about a tiny chink in it’s scales roughly the size of a coin? Or how about a weakness at the base of its skull that requires whoever is brave enough to fight it to jump onto its head? A virtually invincible dragon is a fun dragon.
  • Is your dragon’s fire hot enough to melt rock and turn metal into molten slag? Apart from flying and being huge, dragons are known for their fire. Sure, a young dragon might not have particularly hot fire, but if you want your dragon to truly strike fear into the hearts of its enemies and the general populace, it needs to have fire, hot fire, the kind that the sun would be envious of. It’s scary when a dragon breaks through a wall with its strength. It’s terrifying when it melts a wall into a puddle of molten rock. The hotter your dragon’s fire is, the better.
  • Is your dragon kind of a troll? In the real world, predators don’t actually play around with their prey that much (the occasional cat aside). They usually just eat them. But a truly fiendish dragon is the kind that takes its time burning a city to the ground before eating everybody. A truly fiendish dragon also gives its enemies a brief moment of hope before crushing them (e.g., pretending to be wounded before spewing fire on everything and eating the hero).
  • Can you dragon make an entrance? Yeah, your dragon could just kind of amble onto the scene, but where’s the fun in that? An awesome dragon is awesome from the start. There’s nothing like arriving in the midst of a hurricane, the thunder of wingbeats splitting the air as the dragon’s bulk blots out the sun before the whole sky catches fire. A dragon should be impressive. A dragon should scream horrible, horrible death from the very moment it appears.
  • Can your dragon die in style? If, somehow, the heroes of your story manage to slay your dragon, they deserve a fitting reward. The dragon shouldn’t just fall over and die. That’s not fitting at all. It should thrash and howl and roar. It should fly and then smash into the mountainside. It should spew fire like a broken fire hydrant spews water before toppling to the ground. In the real world awesome things don’t always die in awesome ways. Luckily, if you’ve got a dragon, you’re not in the real world, and your dragon should totally die in an awesome way.

Dragons should be awesome. Make sure yours is.

If you want to read more about my (more serious) thoughts on writing, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.

Sometimes Less Is More – Adjectives

Adjectives are wonderful words. A few well-used adjectives can add spice to a passage of writing. However, a few poorly used adjectives can lead to disaster, and two of the easiest ways to misuse adjectives are to either use too many or to use adjectives that are just over the top.

Let’s start off with an obvious example of using too many adjectives.

The big, blue, shaggy, happy, fast, playful, excited dog ran toward its owner.

Clearly, that’s too many adjectives. But how many is too many? A nice, simple test is to read the passage aloud. If you find that the adjectives sound a bit drawn-out or strange, then you’ve probably used too many. Remember, you don’t have to described every single little thing about everything. Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes, you can just call a dog a dog without delving into all the minutiae of its breed, colour, temperament, etc.

Generally speaking, it’s rare to see more than three adjectives being applied to a noun right next to each other, and many writers will never use more than two. There are even writers who won’t use more than one adjective at a time, save for extenuating circumstances. If you really want to describe something in detail, you can do so in stages, describing one set of properties at a time and spacing the adjectives out.

Using over-the-top adjectives can lead to prose sounding quite purple. At the same time, however, we don’t want to always use the same adjectives to describe things. For example, there’s nothing wrong with using ‘huge’ to describe something if it is, in fact, very, very large. However, varying the adjectives you use too much can make prose sound quite bizarre.

Some adjectives are popular for a reason. ‘Big’ is popular because it’s easy to understand, and it covers quite a large range. In contrast, if something is humongous, then it better be large indeed, otherwise using ‘humongous’ just comes across as weird. Furthermore, some adjectives just don’t sound that sensible when used with certain nouns.

Consider a few of the following examples:

  • Humongous sword
  • Ginormous building
  • Minuscule person
  • Berserk poodle

Now, there’s nothing to say that a sword can’t be humongous or that a poodle can’t be berserk, but those combination are more likely to inspire giggles than awe (which is fine if you want people to laugh).

A good rule of thumb is to just ask yourself if you could imagine someone else using the adjective you want to use in the way you want to use it during a relatively normal conversation. If you can’t, then you might be better of looking for a different adjective. Of course, this is just a rough guideline. If you’re writing using a particular style (e.g., a more ornate style), then stick with that.

Adjectives are powerful things, so we should always be careful to use them properly.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on writing, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.

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