A Quote

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
A Quote
5
Sun, 03-07-2010 - 2:50pm

"As to the adverb: when in doubt, strike it out." Mark Twain said that.


I agree. Long time gentle writers may remember me saying "Highlight adverbs in your manuscript with a black Marksalot." Now, we know that's silly. If you're using a black marker, you're not highlighting. You're striking it out just like Mr. Clemens said.

JudyB







JudyB






iVillage Member
Registered: 07-03-2004
In reply to: cl_judy_bee
Sun, 03-07-2010 - 4:14pm

Weelll, I don't exactly agree with that. There are no rules--only what works. Adverbs do have their place and shouldn't be eliminated just because they're adverbs. That can lead to dull writing. I knew someone with a zero tolerance policy for adverbs and adjectives. The writing was pretty bad.

But also the other problem I have is that it lends itself to being a "rule." I've been breaking rules left and right with intent, and I have writers telling me, "You can't do that."

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
In reply to: cl_judy_bee
Sun, 03-07-2010 - 4:41pm

How did I know you'd be the first responder, Linda? ;-) Like the guy in the yellow boots, you came to put out the fire built of dead adverbs. Like an EMT, you came to save their lives.


There is nothing wrong with adverbs. If there were, they wouldn't be in the language. The problem with adverbs is that writers often use them as a crutch instead of finding other words. There is almost another way to write any idea without an adverb. Sometimes it takes work. The lazy writer will depend on adverbs.


As far as rules go, Linda, you can break them (sparingly ) as long as you know what they are and why they're rules.

JudyB







JudyB






iVillage Member
Registered: 07-03-2004
In reply to: cl_judy_bee
Sun, 03-07-2010 - 6:28pm

Actually, I think overuse of adverbs can be a sign of poor narrative skills. Usually the people using too many of them are also doing a lot of dialogue and not a lot of narrative. That's where being a "rule" goes wrong because it doesn't even address the actual problem.

It is really easy to look in the wrong direction when there's a problem, and "rules" make it even easier. They tend to imply that if you follow the rule, the problem will be solved. So noted because I've been having a lot of problems with getting my subplots to develop, and I've researched everywhere. The information was pretty standard, and completely unhelpful. Nothing answered why my subplots weren't naturally developing.

So I asked for help in a couple of different places. Everyone jumped to explain subplots to me as if I didn't know what they were. I was told that the problem must be the lack of a character arc (I only have a plot arc, but the book is patterned after the thrillers I've read). Or that I needed to do character sketches because I hadn't developed the characters (the book was sight unseen). Apparently my writing process is so different that I even had people tut-tutting me in a way that suggested I didn't know what I was doing in the first place because I wasn't following the rules and standards.

I did finally figure out the problem, and it actually had nothing to do with subplots. It was how I organize. I tend to forget about what I can't see, and once a subplot slips into a past chapter, it's out of sight, out of mind. Then I'd need a subplot and start another one, only to have it fall to the wayside. I ended up with a lot of these littered throughout the book. But you know, if I stayed following the rules, I probably wouldn't have found the problem.

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Avatar for avihockey
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: cl_judy_bee
Mon, 03-08-2010 - 3:53pm

I've never had any firm rules when it comes to writing and I've never been distilled with a distrust of adverbs. I try harder to avoid an abuse of the "to be" verb and the past perfect tense when I'm writing fiction since those are among my biggest crutches. I agree that an excess (I have been taught to distrust excess in any manner!) of adverbs can't be good. But I also think adverbs have a purpose and can often be a valuable contribution to a sentence. As with all editing, I think the question to ask when you run upon adverbs in your writing is "is this the best way I can say this?"

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
In reply to: cl_judy_bee
Tue, 03-09-2010 - 6:06pm
You know my rule, Ada. Puke it all out and fix it up later. Unfortunately, my mind puke is sometimes filled with passive verbs, adverbs, and not a small amount of telling. Good thing we're allowed to rewrite - and sometimes we even get do-overs.

JudyB







JudyB