Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I lovingly read these adverbs and wonder why anyone would want them gone. Your characters can jump fearlessly, kiss passionately, tell softly, touch gently, run quickly, dance beautifully, walk quietly, yell ferociously, and talk intelligently. So expressively. So elegantly.
But no, we are told to use stronger verbs so that we don't need the adverbs. Let's see, that would make the previous paragraph go something like this:
Your characters can leap, make out, whisper, caress, sprint, waltz, tip toe, bellow, and...and...uh, preach. (I have no idea what to use for 'talk intelligently'.) These verbs are shorter and more descriptive, but I STILL think the -ly words are pretty.
To be fair, I can see the value in the rule. Really, it does make sense. You use an adverb to strengthen a weak verb, so if you have a strong verb, you wouldn't need an adverb. If your verbs are weak, then your action is weak. Use action to liven up your story and connect with your readers.
Dialogue is a huge collector of adverbs and a great place to start hunting for them. So often we tell the action with our adverbs instead of using action tags to let the reader experience the story.
"Put that down," she said harshly.
"Put that down," she bellowed.
"You are so beautiful," he said tenderly.
Now that I see the rule for what it is and how effective it can be, I say let EVERYONE follow the rule. What, you say? There are exceptions to the rule? Oh yes, indeed.
If you are a multi-published, top-selling author, then yes, you can break any and every rule you want to. I won't name names, but these famous authors are allowed liberties in the area of rules. I'm not sure I think that's fair. But then I guess if I was making thousands of dollars on my writing and had editors clamoring for my books, then I could afford to get lazy in my writing. But I'm not, so I will learn the rules...as strict as they may be, and in learning the rules, I will become a better writer.
Join me as we kill the adverb and take on the job of finding excellent action verbs. Happy Hunting!
Have you had a love affair with the -ly adverbs? If so, how did you break it off?