Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nike Chillemi: Mordant Modifiers Mock Me

Nike Chillemi

I love to describe. I started out in marketing in the bridal industry and loved to wax on and on about layers of white tulle. I'm so enamored of bridal, I gave my heroine's best friend forever (BFF) a bridal couture shop in my latest release, HARMFUL INTENT. Then I had to be real careful not to over describe that gossamer world. I might know and love that there are a gazillion shades of white, but I'd bore my readers describing them all. In my 1940s Sanctuary Point series, I chomped at the bit to portray the pristine, undeveloped landscape of that era, the aromas coming from the various ethnic kitchens in the village, and the latest 1940s fashion statement. 

There has to be a point where I put the brakes on. I don't want my next contemporary detective novel to come off like this...

"Druzilla rushed breathlessly into the chrome encrusted lobby of the super-deluxe luxury skyscraper with its
Italian-marble floor tiles. She clasped her Glock in her perfectly manicured hands in a police-style, double hand-hold while her heart rapidly pounded out a staccato rhythm. Advancing toward the steel elevator banks, her low-heeled boots tapped loudly against the tiles. She barely managed to overcome the churning in her stomach, but still forged ahead past the bewildered security guard who had, up until that point, been sitting nonchalantly at his desk. When the elevator doors opened, she spied the a middle aged, balding man in a double-breasted, pinstripe suit with an embossed, black-leather briefcase still clasped in his hand and a wooden handled, military stiletto sticking out of his back."

How many "ly" words are in that, not to mention hyphenated descriptives...let's not count them. You see, I have this teensy-weensy affliction. I desire that my reader will know exactly down to the most minute detail what my heroine and hero are feeling, what the room looks like and what aromas might be gracing the atmosphere. So, I must therefore put effort into restraining myself. I have even gone so far as to take an oath to banish adjectives and adverbs from the pages of my manuscript. That can be overdone too. There has to be a balance. Readers like to
use their own imaginations, but they also like to know what the author's vision is.

With great gnashing of teeth, I've learned to be a great deal more sparse in my writing. One advantage of cutting out those weasel words is the pace picks up…a good thing when writing suspense, which I do. Every story can use some suspense to liven the pace, so cutting modifiers, no matter how it hurts, can be a good thing.

Is this easy? No! Oh, those dreaded weasel words...alas, they still call to me…still haunt and plague me. Some writers fervently subscribe to the belief that more than one "many" is too many in a chapter. It also could be argued that it's way too few, except on those highly rare occasions when "many" is needed many times to make the author's highly salient point. Of course unless the author is obfuscating by using an abundance of abstract words that might tend to obscure the meaning rather than elucidate the author's point for the reader. No, we wouldn't ever want to do that, now would we?

And so, dear and gentle reader, I hope this clarifies everything for you.

About Nike:

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released in the spring of 2014 under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). 

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels' family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he's not so sure at first, he's on the meddling New York PI's side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

Purchase Harmful Intent on Amazon


  1. Descriptions can be so tricky, can't they? Especially with the emphasis these days to "engage all the senses in every scene." Moderation is the key--just like it is in everything else.

    Terrific post!

  2. Welcome, Nike! Wonderful, entertaining and informative post.