Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Looking for Balance

When DS, an enthusiastic baking intern at the home kitchen, noted how quickly the dough rose as compared to his previous experiences, I commented on the role of sugar to jazz up the yeast, and salt to retard yeasty over-exuberance.

Put it this way: it’s a prized balance of the bready arts.

This made a literary quote pop out of my memory bank:

Henry James

I use adjectives, and I use adverbs. I’m aware of their effects and omit them where they add nothing. I kill them where they detract. But they have their place, and the key is balance.

No slavish rule following will help achieve balance. Great writing is just this, measured and effective. Like fresh bread, which is neither too light nor too doughy.

Wow. So many adjectives in this post. Which should I have cut?


Janie Junebug said...

That's some great looking braided bread. You don't need to cut adjectives to make me happy.

Johnell said...

Yes. I wholeheartedly agree. We sometimes get paralyzed by the "rules."

Vijaya said...

That's a great quote and my mouth is watering just looking at that scrumptious bread.

Kelly Hashway said...

The thing with adverbs is they’re usually only needed when you don’t opt for a specific (strong) verb. Example: He ran quickly.
He sprinted.

Evelyn said...

Yes, thank you, I'd be delighted to have some of that bread. And don't cut any words on my account. I thought you expressed yourself very well.

Barbara Etlin said...

Mmm, that challah looks yummy!

While it is a good idea not to overuse adverbs and adjectives, deciding that balance is often a matter of style and voice. J.K. Rowling uses a lot of adverbs in the Harry Potter books and it doesn't bother me.

Maybe one should write the way one likes in the first draft and edit out the excess A & As later.

Jenni said...

Great picture of your son! That bread looks amazing!
I remember being told at one of the first conferences I attended to cut every single adverb--and I've heard more recently the same with adjectives. But over time, I've learned to trust my own judgment more to determine what needs to stay and go.

Mark Murata said...

You might look at Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft by Brooks Landon, offered by The Great Courses. He says the main kernel of a sentence--something like the subject and predicate, but not limited to that--should have the fewest modifiers. Other parts of the sentence can have more modifiers. For instance, "I commented on the role of sugar to jazz up the yeast" is a sentence kernel with no modifiers, while "and salt to retard yeasty over-exuberance" is a part of the sentence made more interesting with the use of modifiers.
Obviously, this is my thin explanation of an interesting concept.