View Full Version : Modifiers need not apply

01-06-2005, 12:59 AM
I would like to propose a challenge. Write a story of 150 words or less without using adverbs or adjectives.


01-06-2005, 04:16 AM
Adverbs would easy... but adjectives? That would be pretty hard.

01-06-2005, 08:08 AM
I think the only way you can do this is to write a very basic children's story. Remember the simple stuff in elementary school? See Spot run.

Something like:

Susie was walking. She was smiling. She was twirling. She fell. She stood. She blushed.
Susie was running. She ran and ran. She saw Sally. Sally was running. Sally ran and ran. Susie and Sally ran.
Susie stopped. Sally stopped. Susie and Sally rested.

Not a very interesting story without adverbs and adjectives.

01-06-2005, 12:12 PM
Technically, the "to be" constructions form predicate adjectives. She was walking is basically the same as saying she was green, ie, modifying = adjective.


01-07-2005, 06:38 AM
Apologies for not responding sooner. A bout of stomach flu put me down for a bit.

Possessives, numbers, colors, negatives, to be constructions, etc are fine. (Although one can rewrite "she was walking" to say "she walked".) Go with the spirit of the challenge. The idea is to find the right nouns and verbs so modifiers aren't needed.

01-07-2005, 09:41 AM
She took the scarf from the closet and closed the door. Tom gave her the scarf, on a day peppered with snow. Made of silk from Indonesia, the scarf caressed her neck as if Tom had touched her. She sighed, then rolled the scarf into a ball the size of her fist.

She slipped into the living room and stared at the fireplace. Tom and she had made love on the throw rug.

"Happy anniversary," she said.

She tossed the scarf in the fire.

"Bastard," she added.

In seconds, the scarf curled and crumpled, settling on the pile of ashes. Next to fragments of Tom's and her sister's bones.

01-07-2005, 02:24 PM
Nicely done, Maestro.

01-08-2005, 02:44 AM
Good work, indeed, maestrowork. I have only one nit.

Tom and her had made love on the throw rug.

Should be: Tom and she had made love....

Easy way to check agreement: say the sentence without the proper noun. "Her made love on the rug." Doesn't work, I think.


01-08-2005, 06:51 AM
You're, of course, correct.

My defense: I didn't do any edit/rewrite... ;) I wrote that on the fly.

01-09-2005, 05:59 AM
In defense of what I wrote:

I don't know where you went to school but in my book "was walking",
"was smiling", "was twirling" are what you call compound verbs. "Was" is a helping verb; the other verbs are action verbs.

The assignment was to avoid using adverbs and adjectives. I used nouns, pronouns, verbs and conjunctions.

01-09-2005, 07:08 AM
I stand corrected.

01-09-2005, 03:40 PM
Bob had filled the page. He moved his fingers off the keyboard and relaxed.

Gina crossed the room and touched his shoulder. "It's midnight. What have you got?"

Bob read. "One light shone in the otherwise empty–oops!" Fingers returned to keyboard. "One light shone in the–" pause, "room where nobody stood."

Gina nodded.

Bob continued. "One light shone in the room where nobody stood. Nobody had stood there for a long ti– Ugh!" Bob grimaced. Fingers on keys. Tap tap. "Nobody had stood there since the end of the war. Cedric poured himself a drink and sat on the bare flo– Drat!"

"Cool it, Bob. Keep going."

"Cedric poured himself a drink and sat on the–um, the windowsill. The windowsill had no paint. He and Josefina had picked out colors before the war. He remembered this. Josefina had wanted something subdued– Goddamnit!"

Tap tap tappity tap.

"Josefina hadn't liked paint. She'd wanted varnish. But the war changed everybody's plans."

Bob paused. "That's one paragraph. Think it'll do?"

"I don't know. Why enter that contest?"

"I guess because I have a right to parody Hemingway like anyone else."

01-09-2005, 11:08 PM

Brilliant, reph!

01-10-2005, 12:07 AM
Made me question my own existence.

01-10-2005, 12:51 AM
“I'm looking for a couch,” said the woman.

The salesman nodded.

“What’s the price of the couch in the window?” she asked.

“I cannot say, “ said the salesman.

“What colors does it come in?”

“I cannot say,” said the salesman.

“Some help you are!” she said and left the store.

“When I get hold of the person that issued this challenge . . .” said the salesman.

01-12-2005, 11:14 PM
Reph and detante,


I actually did write something for the challenge, but ezboard went down just as I was about to post it.

Then my cats came into the office and demanded attention. Then I had to eat lunch, and by then I had forgotten that I needed to write something with words to post here...

Am I at the limit yet?

01-13-2005, 08:07 AM
Then my cats came into the office and demanded attention.

"Then" is an adverb. Gotcha!

02-14-2005, 07:29 PM
Death came for her. It was draped in satin, clothed in lace. It danced, spun, twirled through air. It smiled. It laughed and leaped, alighting on the doorstep.

It was morning and she was not dressed. She wore her robe. She had not tied it. Slippers dangled from her feet; they touched the tiles of the floor. She had brushed her teeth before she sat to eat her breakfast of toast and coffee. The toothpaste was tinged with cinnamon. The taste lingered.

But Death did not.

02-15-2005, 08:32 AM
It was morning and she was not dressed.
"Dressed" is an adjective here? To make dressed a verb it should be:

"It was morning and she had not dressed."

I think?

02-15-2005, 08:01 PM
Ooops. Yep. It's trickier than I realized.

02-15-2005, 08:11 PM
One can argue (?) "was tinged" is also an adjective?

02-16-2005, 03:57 PM
One can argue (?) "was tinged" is also an adjective?
Well, I don't think so, no. But, just to be sure, you could change:

The toothpaste was tinged with cinnamon.
to: "The toothpaste was tinged by cinnamon."

02-18-2005, 07:02 PM
Cinamon tinged the toothpaste.

(Why would "by" make a difference?)

02-19-2005, 02:52 PM
I just think "by" makes it more obvious that the cinnamon is acting on the toothpaste, and therefore "tinged" is a verb. "With" can be mis-interpreted as a preposition. "The cinnamon was with the toothpaste inside the toothpaste tube," tells us nothing about how it got there, or what has acted on what.