I actually have certain concrete rules I use. One is, to paraphrase Shakespeare, first kill all the adjectives. Adjectives are a waste in most cases. In most cases, you can get by without an adjective; in most cases, you can get by without an adverb. And if you simply assign yourself to go through your prose when you’re rewriting and cut out all adjectives, and then read it over first before re-inserting adjectives, I think you will find that your prose will be far, far cleaner. When you try to write without adjectives, you say things in a very different way. You don’t say, “He lived in a blue house”; you say, “He lived in a house that was the color of the lake on a summer day,” or something like that. It forces you to come up with something vivid.
It’s also important to remember that in most cases, it’s a bad thing to call attention to yourself as a writer. That the most important thing is to let the story find its own voice and speak for itself. Prose should be simple, should not shout out, “Look at me, I’m a writer.” And if you keep that always in mind, you’ll be much better off.
Erik Larson, interviewed by Ron Kovach in The Writer