Our brains fill up, so to speak, with what some linguists call schemas.
To keep things simple we can think of a schema as a cluster of pieces of information all relating the same thing..
For example, in a novel, to describe the route someone must follow, we may resort to descriptions relating to the colors and the smells of the landscape.
We may also describe the feelings of the character.
Of course, unless we’re showing the dog as it is experienced from an alien mind who’s just starting to put together his or her own schema about dogs.
Or if such core features aren’t met: In the examples above adjectives describe aspects that don’t pertain to core features. Indeed, if in the above sentence we have decided to use big and black only because both words begin with b–and in first drafts this can happen fairly often–we have just abused our own prose.The words “dog” and “garden” would spur readers to visualize a typical dog in a typical garden.Such typical ideas tend to be quite similar from one person to another.Then, maybe, the subsequent day we might feel happy and confident and decide to take a flight of fancy. If we write paranormal suspense, or spiritualism, this might be just fine–beware I said . After all, adjectives by themselves are quite simple to understand.If not, it’s better we spit in our hands, so to speak, and begin the hard work. I mean, according to the Cambridge dictionary, an adjective is just “a word that describes a noun or pronoun.” (However, if you want more information, please, do have a look at this definition of adjective.)In any case, definitions of adjectives seem all quite straightforward, don’t they?Instead, in a street guide we would most likely heavily rely on words related to the concepts of distance and direction.I mean, if we tried to explain to someone how to reach a certain place, but we did so using exclusively words related to colors and feelings instead of distance and direction, in no time we would come up with some sentences that aren’t exactly efficient.ο Go straight on for one mile and then turn on your left.ο Go yellow for a naughty while and then blue on happy.ο First follow the smell of gasoline. You’ll see it, when you feel a lump of fear in your throat.Not because the sentence is inherently weak, or because a dog can’t be big and black.Quite simply, because adjectives, like any other word in fiction, should add value to the story.We would also agree that in general dogs bark, or that they wag their tails when they are happy. For some people, dogs are dangerous creatures, for many others loving creatures. As a result of these schemas we all have in our minds and whose core features we share, we can communicate quite rapidly and efficiently.Those characteristics that we think all normal dogs possess represent the core features of our schemas. This is one of the most important reasons adjectives have to be chosen with extreme care.