Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Adverbs," she said silkily.


–noun Grammar. Any member of a class of words that in many languages are distinguished in form, as partly  in English by the ending -ly

 Oh, the beloved adverb.  I don't know about you guys, but my first drafts are rife with these little beauties.  Sometimes it seems like every other word has that pretty -ly stuck on the end of it.

You know, maybe that's why my second drafts wind up being so much longer than my firsts -- all the adverb replacing takes extra words.  ;)

Now, let's get right to the point -- finding a lot of adverbs in your MS is a good indicator that you're doing a lot of telling where you could be showing.  Does that mean every single adverb needs to be eliminated?  No.  Absolutely not.  Every once in a while an adverb is the best choice for making the biggest impact in a sentence.  Just use them sparingly.

I know a lot of people preach on about the adverb, but I think I'll give you a few examples to help you out on your journey to a stronger MS. 

Adverb/Telling --  Savanah bounds to her feet angrily.

Showing --  Savanah bounds to her feet with a flourish of lace and golden curls, her face redder than the reddest rose.

Adverb/Telling --  She looks at me knowingly.

Showing -- She cocks her head at me and purses her lips.

Something I do when I'm trying to rid myself of unnecessary adverbs is to put myself in the character's position.  If I were this character, what facial expression would I make, or what would it look like when I get so mad I jump out of my seat?

That approach, for the most part, helps me to form a more firm visual of the situation, which makes it easier to show it to my audience.

Are adverbs an issue for you?  What are some methods you use to keep yourself from being a little too liberal with them?

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