Thursday, 24 November 2016

GUEST POST: All about Adverbs (Holly Tierney-Bedord)

GUEST POST: All about Adverbs 
 by Holly Tierney-Bedord

Something readers may not know is that writers get a lot of pressure to avoid using adverbs. Even though adverbs fill our conversations, relying on them when writing a book is not considered good practice.

First of all, let’s remind everyone what an adverb is.

ad·verb
noun
Grammar
noun: adverb; plural noun: adverbs
  1. a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).


(Is it weird that an adverb is a noun?)

To simplify matters, an adverb modifies a verb. Adverbs often end with the letters ly. Just like a verb can tell you what a noun did (The dog ran.), an adverb tells you how the verb did it (The dog ran slowly. The dog ran quickly.)
What editors will tell you is that much of the time, if you used an adverb, it’s because you used the wrong verb in the first place. Back to that dog. If he ran slowly, that means he trotted. Or staggered. Or loped. If he ran quickly, you could write that he raced or shot across the room.

Here’s a paragraph about why adverbs aren’t your friend. What could you cut from it to make it clearer and stronger?

You should really clean up those totally useless adverbs! You seriously don’t need them. They’re just another way to easily puff up your writing. Despite what your fourth grade teacher told you about writing book reports, more words aren’t necessarily better. Adverbs can absolutely be necessary, and since people rely on them pretty often in their natural speech and informal times like when they send an email, readers are used to seeing them so it’s not actually hurting anything to leave them in sometimes. The trick is knowing when to leave them in and when to simply press the delete button. So remember: If a sentence would lose meaning by deleting the adverb, then it logically makes more sense to leave the adverb in place. But if you want to carefully edit down your work now and then and really make it a little clearer, try eliminating some adverbs and see if your work isn’t stronger without them.



Okay, I’m going to sit here and drink some coffee while everyone works on this. Who am I kidding? As if people use the internet to learn!

Are you ready? I think this entire paragraph can be whittled down to the following:

Eliminate unnecessary adverbs to streamline and strengthen your writing.

If that’s too whittled down for you, how about this:

You should really clean up those totally useless adverbs! You seriously don’t need them. They’re just another way to easily puff up your writing. Despite what your fourth grade teacher told you about writing book reports, more words aren’t necessarily better. Adverbs can absolutely be necessary, and since people rely on them pretty often in their natural speech and informal times like when they send an email, readers are used to seeing them so it’s not actually hurting anything to leave them in sometimes. The trick is knowing when to leave them in and when to simply press the delete button. So remember: If a sentence would lose meaning by deleting the adverb, then it logically makes more sense to leave the adverb in place. But if you want to carefully edit down your work now and then and really make your work it a little clearer, try eliminating eliminate unnecessary adverbs and see if your work isn’t stronger without them.

These changes translate to this:

Despite what your fourth grade teacher told you about writing book reports, more words aren’t necessarily better. If a sentence would lose meaning by deleting the adverb, then it makes sense to leave the adverb in place. But if you want to make your work clearer, eliminate unnecessary adverbs.

Better, right?


Subscribe to my newsletter for news about my books, special offers, and (Yes!!!) writing tips.

Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of Surviving Valencia, Right Under Your Nose, Ring in the New Year, Bellamy’s Redemption, and many more books. Her newest novella Murder at Mistletoe Manor is her first cozy mystery. All her books contain far too many adverbs.


No comments:

Post a Comment