05 November 2006

Die, adverbs, die!

Note of personal interest: I recently did an -ly search on my book, a 116,000 word fantasy novel. I'm readying it for submission, and I read the suggestion on an author's website. I've never thought of myself as particularly adverbial, but this exercise proved that theory wrong. My manuscript is now over ONE THOUSAND words shorter, and a better read, I believe. Adverbs tell, not show. Most adverbs signify lazy writing, as Brian says, and as an editor I'm always on the lookout for them. But, as is so common, I missed a great deal of them in my own work. I'd suggest the -ly search and see if it doesn't improve your writing. I think you'll often find they aren't needed at all.

5 comments:

David Hughes said...

As an anti-adverbite, I couldn't agree more. Sometimes adverbs slip into my prose and I don't notice (typing fingers with a mind of their own, I guess). Other times, I conclude an adverb works/is necessary but it BUUURNS!

Going back to my eariler post on first paragraphs, I'd have to say there's nothing that screams "poor writing" like adverbs in the first few sentences. When I see that, I can't help but reach for my figurative red pen.

lesleylsmith said...

There's certainly something to this idea of losing adverbs, she thought bemusedly as she typed dilatorily at the keyboard. However, I confess: I thoroughly enjoy the occasional adverb! :)

writtenwyrdd said...

I read something recently where the suggestion was to set the page width wide enough so the paragraphs were mostly all one line. Then you should compare the paragraph beginnings to ensure you didn't repeat yourself and that you used a nice variety of sentence structures throughout.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

well, I've found plenty of dialogue to break up the narrative keeps things varied enough.

Brian Gage said...

Hi, Betsy. Thank you for the plug!

Glad the "ly" search helped weed out some nasty adverbs...