An online devotional for writers
They spread this bad report about the land … “All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants..” (Numbers 13:32-33, NLT)
A superlative is an exaggerated expression. It’s huge, amazing, phenomenal, outstanding, awesome – or any other term that overstates and inflates.
When used excessively, a superlative is clickbait, designed to sensationalize and get attention rather than offer a substantive comparison to other high-quality items.
But when a superlative is used truthfully, it makes a point. We see this in scripture. Bible superlatives place a person or object in comparison to another in an honest way.
When the twelve spies were sent by Moses returned from their reconnaissance mission to Israel, their first report was a good one. The people were large, the cities were fortified, but the land was fruitful.
But then, when Caleb proposed an invasion, the twelve launched into superlatives: the Canaanite people were stronger … huge … giants.
Their superlatives were an excuse. It’s one that kept Israel from the Promised Land for forty years.
In writing, superlatives are an excuse. They are a lazy writer’s way out. Facts, proof, an example, or a better word are much more effective.
Superlatives are a lazy writer’s way out.
I want to write truthfully. Show me how to use descriptive language rather than exaggerate. Let me be diligent as I choose my words.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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Content by award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse, who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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