Lose Those Old Friends
December 15, 2005 | It's All About Writing
Let’s talk about adverbs.
When I first started writing fiction, mystery crime writer Beth Anderson foolishly offered to read my WIP. Beth noted many first-timer mistakes and made it her job to teach me. A better day there has never been. She laboriously went through the mss marking all the corrections in thick red ink. At the end of it all she wrote me a note apologizing if she had hurt my feelings.
Not a snowball’s chance. It was the best education I’d ever received because Beth took the time to explain how adverbs weaken the sentence and feel of the scene unless it’s an emotional time for the H/H.
Here’s an example of what not to do;
“You can be very outspoken,” he softly commented while tenderly reaching for her hand.
Makes you want to stick your finger down your throat doesn’t it? Imagine if there were twenty-five plus ‘ly’ words on the same page. Bad ratio to the 250 words on every typed manuscript page.
This is what it now reads;
“You can be very outspoken,” he said as he reached for her hand.
Simple, cleancut, and ready for the editor. Here’s the solution;
Go through your WIP.
Highlight every adverb in the color of your choice.
Re-read your sentences, one at a time. Can you say it better, smoother, stronger by eliminating the dreaded “ly”?
Keep your adverbs to two a page and only if they are necessary. Chances are you can and your novel with be a thousand percent better.