WritersBeat.com
 

Go Back   WritersBeat.com > Writing Craft > The Reference Room > Grammar


Don't Dismiss Adverbs

 
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 08-19-2015, 02:47 PM
longknife's Avatar
longknife (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 752
Thanks: 115
Thanks 89
Default Don't Dismiss Adverbs


How many times do editors and readers tell us we must go through our mss' and cut out all the words ending in "ily"?

This appears to be another one of those inviolable "rules" pounded into us by those who teach because they cannot create.

Thusly, this article caught my eyes and I think is worth sharing here:

Don’t Dismiss Adverbs!
By: Cris Freese | August 18, 2015
on Writer's Digest http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-...ismiss-adverbs

Not too long ago, on Facebook, aspiring MFAs were proudly announcing that they had spent entire revision sessions excising from their manuscripts every word ending in “-ly.” Quoting Stephen King (who was perhaps quoting Nathaniel Hawthorne), they assured each other that The Road to Hell is Paved with Adverbs. Well, with all due respect to Mr. King and Mr. Hawthorne, it just ain’t so.

To begin with, an adverb is not merely a word that happens to end in -ly. An adverb is one of the four content parts of speech (the others are nouns, verbs, and adjectives) which enable us to construct sentences. Every part of speech
does something in a sentence: nouns name things, verbs provide action, adjectives and adverbs add to or limit or clarify the nouns and verbs. A writer determined to eliminate adverbs will be a seriously handicapped writer, for adverbs can make more specific, add information to, not only verbs, but also adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs, like the other content parts of speech, are an essential for every writer’s toolkit; they can do things that the other parts of speech cannot.

The “death to all adverbs” crew also clearly don’t understand that adverbs are not only single words. Every content part of speech—noun or verb, adjective or adverb—can take different forms. That’s because a part of speech is a
role that a word, or a group of words, plays in a sentence. So the role of the adverb can be played by a single word: Joe went home. It can be played by a phrase: I’ll call youin the morning. It can even be played by a dependent cause: We’ll eat whenever he gets here. And, as in this sentence from Dickens, an adverb structure can encompass other adverbials and adjectives: He livedin a gloomy suite of rooms in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide and seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again. To advise young writers to get rid of all their adverbs is like advising a pitcher with four great pitches to throw only three of them—it’s professional suicide.

Many aspiring writers struggle, not because they don’t have great ideas or wonderful stories to tell, but because they don’t have the words they need to communicate those ideas or to tell those stories. They try desperately to find the “unique voice” agents and editors want by paying close attention to their innermost selves. But these writers are looking in the wrong place: Voice is not a function of a writer’s self, but of her skill with words. Writers who want to create a distinctive voice on the page need to learn everything they can about how words work, about how they can be combined into sentences. Just like singers, writers who want to develop a great voice need to practice their techniques, over and over and over, so that those techniques become part of them, able to be used at will when they’re drafting and revising.

And just like trained singers, writers who’ve mastered technique can make magic with their voices, captivating their readers and making them turn pages. Such a writer’s voice can pulse with vitality, swing like music, create all kind of effects inside readers, compel them by sheer syntactical energy to keep turning the pages. It can only do these things, though, when the writer—like all those great writers from earlier eras—has studied, practiced, and mastered the repertoire of syntactical techniques available to those of us writing in English.


I am certainly going to review my own WIP to insure I'm not doing this!

__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

The history of the California missions


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Life in the military and general ramblings
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to longknife For This Useful Post:
Carl Magnus (02-04-2016), Cricket Leaf (07-26-2016), J.Mariano7 (11-11-2015)
  #2  
Old 08-19-2015, 05:16 PM
Non Serviam's Avatar
Non Serviam (Offline)
Heartbreaking Writer of Staggering Genius
Official Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,467
Thanks: 71
Thanks 590
Default

That rule of thumb should read "Cut needless modifiers".
__________________
A few of my stories:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
;
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
;

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


English is a strange language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought though.
  #3  
Old 08-20-2015, 12:45 AM
SteveHarrison (Offline)
Abnormally Articulate
Official Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 118
Thanks: 10
Thanks 43
Default

I'm against writing advice that states you should or shouldn't do something, as it does a disservice to other writers, particularly those who are learning. I believe the best writers are those who have made the most mistakes and discovered for themselves what works and what doesn't.

Fortunately, everything in writing is negotiable and the key, for me, is to remember that all writing advice is actually opinion which should not be taken as gospel unless you come to the same conclusion by your own trial and error.
__________________
Web
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
TimeStorm FB page
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to SteveHarrison For This Useful Post:
Cricket Leaf (07-26-2016), EFFI (03-28-2016), longknife (08-20-2015)
  #4  
Old 08-22-2015, 11:37 AM
charleswhaley (Offline)
Abnormally Articulate
Official Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Ohio
Posts: 113
Thanks: 10
Thanks 22
Default

Rules are meant to be broken by those who know how to break them.
__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to charleswhaley For This Useful Post:
Bagit (08-26-2015), SteveHarrison (08-22-2015), wyf (09-10-2015)
  #5  
Old 08-23-2015, 09:33 AM
longknife's Avatar
longknife (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 752
Thanks: 115
Thanks 89
Default

What the article did was make me aware of how and what verbs I use and if there are better, more descriptive ones.
__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

The history of the California missions


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Life in the military and general ramblings
  #6  
Old 08-23-2015, 11:29 PM
calligraphy's Avatar
calligraphy (Offline)
Always Online
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Gallapagos Islands
Posts: 2,876
Thanks: 80
Thanks 345
Default

Sometimes the sentence is weaker with it. I've found YA writers overuse them to "youthanize" the narrative, but essentially it makes the writer sound younger.

I usually strip them out as much as I can, meaning I leave some in. But second round is always the moment to strengthen a sentence. Every one of them counts, and so usually an adverb can leave if it sounds as good without.

I think new writers overuse them, I did/do, but as we get stronger in the narrative, I notice they are used less and less.

Just my experience.
__________________
My Book:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
  #7  
Old 08-23-2015, 11:50 PM
poirot (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 800
Thanks: 29
Thanks 105
Default

Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
Sometimes the sentence is weaker with it. I've found YA writers overuse them to "youthanize" the narrative, but essentially it makes the writer sound younger.

I usually strip them out as much as I can, meaning I leave some in. But second round is always the moment to strengthen a sentence. Every one of them counts, and so usually an adverb can leave if it sounds as good without.

I think new writers overuse them, I did/do, but as we get stronger in the narrative, I notice they are used less and less.

Just my experience.

Are you will to share an example? A before and after sort of thing. Something with adverbs and then without adverbs while using stronger narrative. Just a couple lines each should suffice.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by poirot; 08-23-2015 at 11:52 PM..
  #8  
Old 08-24-2015, 12:05 AM
calligraphy's Avatar
calligraphy (Offline)
Always Online
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Gallapagos Islands
Posts: 2,876
Thanks: 80
Thanks 345
Default

Example:

The man angrily got in the car. He frantically drove his car to the old house. He ferociously walked up to the door and loudly knocked on it. The door opened violently.

Rewrite:

The man got in his car, still angry, and drove to the old house, pedal down. He walked up to the door with a quick pace, and knocked hard enough to make the wreath shake. The door swung open before he could bang on it again.


(forgive me if this is goofy, but it's just an example) Lol
__________________
My Book:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to calligraphy For This Useful Post:
longknife (08-24-2015), Unpredictabloo (07-05-2016)
  #9  
Old 08-24-2015, 12:06 AM
calligraphy's Avatar
calligraphy (Offline)
Always Online
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Gallapagos Islands
Posts: 2,876
Thanks: 80
Thanks 345
Default

and this.... eventually turns into a show vs tell argument lol
__________________
My Book:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
  #10  
Old 08-24-2015, 12:38 AM
Non Serviam's Avatar
Non Serviam (Offline)
Heartbreaking Writer of Staggering Genius
Official Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,467
Thanks: 71
Thanks 590
Default

The problem isn't adverbs, but modifiers. As the OP correctly says, not all adverbs are "-ly" words. And in fact adjectives, almost as much as adverbs, often need trimming (particularly when they're intensifiers).
__________________
A few of my stories:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
;
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
;

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


English is a strange language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought though.
  #11  
Old 08-24-2015, 01:29 AM
Devon's Avatar
Devon (Offline)
Guard Dog and Playful Pup
Senior Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: In the ether of my imagination
Posts: 10,834
Thanks: 904
Thanks 1,694
Default

The man got in his car, still angry, and drove to the old house, pedal down. He walked up to the door with a quick pace, and knocked hard enough to make the wreath shake. The door swung open before he could bang on it again.
Ooooooo! How about even stronger?:

"The man stormed off to his car, got in, and roared toward the old house, pedal to the floor. Once there, he marched up to the front door and pounded on it with his fist, shaking the wreath. The door was flung open before he could bang on it again."

What an angry man! (Sorry, folks. I haven't written in AGES!!)
__________________
Twenty-year-old Marisa discovers her life is all a lie:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Twisty mind candy:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

  #12  
Old 08-24-2015, 01:39 AM
calligraphy's Avatar
calligraphy (Offline)
Always Online
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Gallapagos Islands
Posts: 2,876
Thanks: 80
Thanks 345
Default

I like it better! Let's name the man!
__________________
My Book:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
The Following User Says Thank You to calligraphy For This Useful Post:
Devon (08-24-2015)
  #13  
Old 08-24-2015, 03:06 AM
Devon's Avatar
Devon (Offline)
Guard Dog and Playful Pup
Senior Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: In the ether of my imagination
Posts: 10,834
Thanks: 904
Thanks 1,694
Default

Carl! Carl the Angry Guy.
__________________
Twenty-year-old Marisa discovers her life is all a lie:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Twisty mind candy:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

The Following User Says Thank You to Devon For This Useful Post:
calligraphy (08-24-2015)
  #14  
Old 08-24-2015, 09:53 AM
longknife's Avatar
longknife (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 752
Thanks: 115
Thanks 89
Default

Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
Example:

The man angrily got in the car. He frantically drove his car to the old house. He ferociously walked up to the door and loudly knocked on it. The door opened violently.

Rewrite:

The man got in his car, still angry, and drove to the old house, pedal down. He walked up to the door with a quick pace, and knocked hard enough to make the wreath shake. The door swung open before he could bang on it again.


(forgive me if this is goofy, but it's just an example) Lol
Loved the new version. Very descriptive and brought me into the scene.
__________________

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

The history of the California missions


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Life in the military and general ramblings
  #15  
Old 08-24-2015, 09:55 AM
poirot (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 800
Thanks: 29
Thanks 105
Default

Thanks, guys, for the examples. This has been a fun lesson! I laughed out loud with the weak example.
  #16  
Old 08-24-2015, 03:48 PM
calligraphy's Avatar
calligraphy (Offline)
Always Online
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Gallapagos Islands
Posts: 2,876
Thanks: 80
Thanks 345
Default

Originally Posted by longknife View Post
Loved the new version. Very descriptive and brought me into the scene.
Good! It's a quickie, so, glad it made sense late at night lol
__________________
My Book:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
  #17  
Old 08-25-2015, 03:32 AM
poirot (Offline)
Scribbling Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 800
Thanks: 29
Thanks 105
Default

Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
Good! It's a quickie, so, glad it made sense late at night lol
I hope I didn't offend you by saying I laughed at the weak example. It was goofy, but aptly demonstrated overuse of -ly words.

I think you and Devon did a wonderful job of showing how to improve our writing.

Thanks again!
The Following User Says Thank You to poirot For This Useful Post:
Devon (08-25-2015)
  #18  
Old 08-25-2015, 01:34 PM
calligraphy's Avatar
calligraphy (Offline)
Always Online
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Gallapagos Islands
Posts: 2,876
Thanks: 80
Thanks 345
Default

Originally Posted by poirot View Post
I hope I didn't offend you by saying I laughed at the weak example. It was goofy, but aptly demonstrated overuse of -ly words.

I think you and Devon did a wonderful job of showing how to improve our writing.

Thanks again!
Not at all!

Plus, that makes sense, since Devon taught me everything I know.
__________________
My Book:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
The Following User Says Thank You to calligraphy For This Useful Post:
Devon (08-25-2015)
  #19  
Old 08-26-2015, 05:58 AM
Bagit's Avatar
Bagit (Offline)
Dungeon Keeper
Administration
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Atlantis; near the west shores of Zingara
Posts: 5,428
Thanks: 878
Thanks 490
Default

Plus, that makes sense, since Devon taught me everything I know.
Devon has instructed and influenced many here over the years. One might say her teachings will forever be remembered (And it tickles me pink that she still walks the halls of the Beat). Yes, Devon should be the first WB Hall of Fame inductee!
__________________
Battle is tricky. Sometimes one can only hope that luck strikes favorably. But without effort, luck is sacrificed.
We The People!
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Bagit For This Useful Post:
calligraphy (08-26-2015), Devon (08-26-2015), Gaines (04-20-2016)
  #20  
Old 08-26-2015, 08:06 AM
wizzy (Offline)
Let me introduce myself
New Author
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 7
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

This is fantastically helpful.
The Following User Says Thank You to wizzy For This Useful Post:
calligraphy (08-26-2015)
  #21  
Old 08-26-2015, 09:58 AM
Devon's Avatar
Devon (Offline)
Guard Dog and Playful Pup
Senior Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: In the ether of my imagination
Posts: 10,834
Thanks: 904
Thanks 1,694
Default

This is fantastically helpful.
Is it, Wizzy? Is it really? (Thanks Bagit and Calli! )
__________________
Twenty-year-old Marisa discovers her life is all a lie:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Twisty mind candy:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Devon For This Useful Post:
Bagit (08-26-2015), calligraphy (08-26-2015)
 

  WritersBeat.com > Writing Craft > The Reference Room > Grammar


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Adjectives & Adverbs Vs. Metaphors & Similes writebunny Writing Help & Issues 15 04-04-2013 02:52 AM
10 Common Problems that Dismiss You As An Amateur Paige Bruce Tips & Advice 128 07-24-2009 01:28 PM
So about those adverbs... The Rubix Horse Tips & Advice 19 11-24-2008 09:37 AM
Tip of the Day Perfect_Paradox Tips & Advice 58 02-20-2008 05:50 PM
Daniel Handler - Adverbs Basic Eight, Series of Unfortunate Events ronoxQ The Library 0 01-26-2007 01:34 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:16 AM.

vBulletin, Copyright © 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.