Saturday mornings are the linchpin of my weekly schedule. All week I anticipate the extra sleep, warm coffee in a mug (not a to-go cup), and my chance to work on some current writing projects. On Saturdays, I plan to complete writing activities for two hours. I wake up slowly, eat a healthy breakfast, brew a cup’o’joe and then head up to my writing space in our upstairs office. I am only ever guaranteed those two hours of writing each week so I count on that time being productive. It is a wonderful creative time for me and sets the tone for the weekend ahead.
This morning I am beginning my Saturday morning routine with a quick read through the next chapter in The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke.
According to Gerke, “-ly adverbs are the redheaded stepchildren of the fiction craftsmanship world.”(page 31)
Those who dislike the use of the -ly adverb do so with a passion. They are the writers who go overboard replacing any and all of the uses from a manuscript. These are the rule-abiding authors who feel that every -ly adverb can be replaced by a stronger verb. (example from the book: “walked stiffly” can be changed to “lurched”)
Those in favor of allowing authors to include -ly adverbs in their writing argue that those words make up a substantial portion of the English language. In some cases it is true that overuse of the -ly adverb can water-down fiction writing, but there are times where no suitable replacement can be found. Authors have to be careful that while trying to avoid overusing the -ly adverb that they are also not taking their writing to a strange place. There are times when using words like quickly, gravely, curiously...etc. really are the best expressions of an action.
As a writer when you find yourself at a crossroads where you are forced to choose between using an -ly adverb over another verb always weigh your options with caution. Write out some other ways to describe the action in your sentence and choose whichever wording seems most natural to you. Always follow your natural instincts. If writing without -ly adverbs is second nature to you then go for it, but if in doing so it hurts the quality or focus in your writing then don’t get hung up on the do’s and dont’s. You can’t follow every rule to a T, and no one will blame you for not doing so.
My Current Project…
As you can probably tell from the angle I took in this post I am not against the use of -ly adverbs in a sense of moderation. If you scan up and down the pages of this blog you will get a sense of my natural style and I do oftentimes lean on those adverbs. My writing is a natural style. -Ly adverbs are naturally ingrained in dialogue so it comes out every now and again in my writing. I agree with Gerke that oftentimes there is a stronger verb replacement for each -ly adverb. As I work to edit my book I am contentiously making myself aware of my use of the taboo adverbs and working to not overuse while also not avoiding.
On a side note, I’ve sent the first ninety-three pages of my book to someone other than my husband to help with editing. Although it’s someone I love and trust I’m still a bit antsy about the whole thing. I look forward to the critique and advice, but I am nervous about their thoughts. As always, I’ll keep you updated!
The Ameri Brit Mom