The Curse of Subjective Adjectives
This is a phenomenal blog post; it’s fun, insightful, sensational, great, super, terrific, and awesome.
Depending on who you are.
Seriously though, we have an issue we need to discuss. Radio hosts, anchors, reporters, game announcers and production script writers have all seemingly slipped into a subjective adjective trough. I hear newscasts, morning shows, sporting events, and station promos filled with adjectives, yet not a single image is conjured.It’s anti-theater-of-the-mind.
It’s the curse of the subjective adjective.
“Here is a sad/shocking/funny story…”
“She tends a lovely garden.”
“This game is crazy.”
“The most amazing giveaway ever.”
Subjective adjectives are — subjective. It’s a description influenced by your personal belief or opinion. More often than not it’s a word that carries no meaning or weight to the listener. It’s what I call an “empty” word, because they have no real meaning and they leave me empty inside. I’m hearing them all the time now and thought it worthwhile to address.
Here are two ways to combat subjective adjective abuse. Feel free to add your own methods in the comments section.
1. Find objective adjectives about the same subject. Objective adjectives are not only accurate, but they are also image inducing.
EXAMPLE: Most people can’t visualize “an awesome apartment building.” However, they can visualize “An apartment building towering 112-floors into the clouds complete gold encrusted toilet seats in each unit, self-cleaning bedrooms and a live-in man servant.”
2. Use your subjective adjective as inspiration to better describe it. Which details can you share that make it sad, lovely or crazy?
EXAMPLE: “A dumb bank robbery suspect is under arrest after sending police on a crazy chase in the countryside.”
Ask yourself: What makes him dumb? What made the chase crazy?
INSPIRED RE-WRITE: “A robbery suspect who left his work ID badge on the counter of the bank is under arrest. He ran out of gas after leading police on a 90 mile an hour pursuit passing horse and buggies on one-lane roads in Amish country.”
THE REALLY BIG FINISH
Every time a subjective adjective is used a radio listener dies a little on the inside. And then turns on Pandora.
Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.