Write mainly with nouns and verbs. Use adjectives only if they make your meaning more precise.
In Daily Mirror Style, Keith Waterhouse describes the old school journalist’s view. He says:
Adjectives should not be allowed in newspapers unless they have something to say.
Writers think adjectives add colour to their words. They do. But colourful writing isn’t always easier to understand. In volume one of Editing and Writing, another newspaper journalist Harold Evans says they give writing a superficial glitter.
He goes on to say:
Every adjective should be examined to see: is it needed to define the subject or is it there for emphasis?
Evans says “over-emphasis destroys credibility”.
Adjectives for emphasis
Take care when using them for emphasis. For example, the word ‘very’ adds nothing to a phrase. Most of the time you can lose the word without changing the meaning. The same usually applies to words like really, actually, rather and quite.
Often there’s a better, more elegant way of expressing the same idea. “The train crawled into the station” is better than saying it was “very slow”.
In practice many adjectives have no substance. You can remove most from your sentences. You won’t lose much, but you will gain clarity.
On a personal note, publishers and others have paid me for years to write by the word. Loading my copy with lucrative filler words including adjectives makes economic sense – but my writing would certainly better without them.
For the record:
Nouns name people, places, things and ideas.
Verbs are doing words. They tell you what is going on. We say
Adjectives modify nouns. They tell you what kind it is, how many there are and which one is being talked about.
Adverbs do the same job for verbs.