Those ghastly -ly words

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Margo
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by Margo » June 23rd, 2011, 7:04 pm

polymath wrote:Unfortunately, sadly, tragically, adverbs take a lot of guff and grief in later English studies, writing studies.
Ackkkk gaaackkk accckkk

sorry, furball.

:D
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polymath
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by polymath » June 23rd, 2011, 8:06 pm

Margo wrote: Ackkkk gaaackkk accckkk

sorry, furball.

:D
[quote="Excerpt from "Dis" by Margo Lerwill"]  A glance along the length of the darkened residential street found it deserted, but I still felt myself wearing that pinched-lipped frown that friends always said made me look sour. “If someone sees me, they’re going to think I’m crazy.”
  “Hey, lady, you paying attention to this or what?”
  I turned back toward the art deco house, stained with the grime of dirty air and foul weather and faded from pink to unbleached bone.[/quote]
Adverbs "still," "always," and "back." That's three not so obvious ones in about 75 words, one in 25 words. I think you're not so averse to adverbs, Margo, so much as only the ly variety, which are obvious.

"Dis" excerpt;
http://urbanpsychopomp.blogspot.com/p/excerpt-dis.html
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Cookie
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by Cookie » June 23rd, 2011, 8:32 pm

I' in the middle of revising my first couple of chapters and I noticed a ridiculous amount of adverbs. My first and second drafts seem to be riddled with them. There are a few I will keep for the tone, but the rest will either be deleted because I don't actually need those words or they'lll be rewritten.

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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by Margo » June 24th, 2011, 11:11 am

polymath wrote:I think you're not so averse to adverbs, Margo, so much as only the ly variety, which are obvious.
Quite aware, polymath. I pointed out I'd gone back to look specifically because the POV was so different for me with first person, much more conversational and relaxed. And you're also right in that I'm not concerned about all adverbs, but the ones standing in for clear, strong verbs and clear, strong dialogue.

But some people really like them, right? They should have at it. We all have to write what the muse dictates and the heart desires. And we've discussed how 'rules' are never 'rules' anyway.

I say Have AT! Go for it. Break the rules. See the exception. Be the exception. Learn from no one. Teach no one. (If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.)
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by oldhousejunkie » June 24th, 2011, 11:56 am

Adverbs are inevitable. And when you used wisely, can conveyed more about a scene than if not used. But with that being said, I did a search of my MS for 'ly" and looked at each instance. I thought about whether or not I could use one word to describe what I meant instead of the action and the adverb. I was surprised how many I was able to trim!

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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by sierramcconnell » June 24th, 2011, 3:41 pm

You know, if I paid so close attention that I could tell what an adjective was from an adverb, I think I might go insane. I just let the words naturally flow and have the muses tell me what they want to say. If the sentence sounds good, great. If it doesn't and there's a green squiggly under it, then I make it more prettified.

I honestly can't get my mind to wrap mechanics. It's like trying to teach me how to read music. It's impossible for me to learn notes, but give me a song and a few thirty, and I'll have it memorized and sung back to you near perfectly.

I'm just not that kinda smart. XD
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polymath
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by polymath » June 24th, 2011, 5:05 pm

Margo, those three adverbs illustrate the dilemma of modifiers. Taking them out doesn't change the meaning much but strengthens the immediacy of impact, though taking them out changes the voice. It's a compromise either way. A third way, rewriting for stronger impact yet keeping the voice really challenges writing skills and builds writing muscles.

What makes those adverbs weaken their respective sentences and strengthen the voice is their functions. Still, a function adverb, indicates a continuing action, similar to a progressive verb. Feeling, for example, could replace still felt. Using still in that function obviates the gerund verb. And still is a function word appropriate for expressing impatience or nuisance and the like, which makes it a strong voice characteristic.

Always, a superlative adverb like never and ever. Superlatives are strong voice words with little significant meaning, though superlatives express firmness, conviction, and certainty and have a tendency to be open to question because they are often overstatements with potentially opposite meanings, as hyperbole, a form of irony, frequently does.

And back, a directional adverb like left, right, up, down, backward, and forward. Similar to stage directions telling action rather than showing, though giving readers a sense of movement in a setting, or, better still, excising and letting readers imaginations span the movement gap. As a voice characteristic, back and similar directional adverbs can be strong when they show emotion. Turning back, for example, can mean a return to an undesired path.

However, without adverbs and adjectives expressing commentary, a narrative voice can be emotionally flat. In a writing workshop, I was told to excise modifiers, that my writing voice was stronger without them because I use robust verbs. Another commenter said the verbs were too strong but the modifiers were great. The other dozen or so participants fell out in favor with one or the other opinions. My voice deflated when I tried to excise modifiers. It soared when I added strong modifiers. The action stifled when I tried to tone down the verbs. Strong verbs clashed with strong modifiers. Back and forth wallowing in the darkness of doubt I struggled. In order to find a functional compromise and refine and stengthen my voice(s), I needed to understand the functions of modifiers so I could balance them with strong verbs and nouns, so they could characterize settings and characters and enhance voice as my creative vision requires.

Anymore, I sentence diagram on the fly. That's been my best practice for rewriting. Draft writing is slower now, but more productive.
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by enewmeyer » June 25th, 2011, 3:35 pm

I just tried to search my ms. for all the ly words. 1300 or so of them. Ee gad! A frightening prospect to say the least until I realized that it highlighted one of my character's names - Lily - over and over again. I guess I'll have to do my own highlighting if I want an accurate count. :lol: It's all just food for thought as I dive back in to hack away at those evil weak words. Although, I have to say, as an elementary school teacher, we teach our kids about the power of adverbs and applaud their usage.

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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by GKJeyasingham » June 25th, 2011, 4:53 pm

I agree with Polymath - assuming one does not overuse them, adverbs (or other words and phrases that are deemed unecessary) can do wonders for the voice. In Kazuo Ichiguro's The Remains of the Day, there were quite a few words and phrases that added nothing in terms of the sentence's meaning. But they did a heck of a job at bringing Stevens the butler to life.

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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by sierramcconnell » June 25th, 2011, 6:18 pm

Well, yes, and I had about 1300 as well, for an MS that is 115000 words. That's a very small amount considering. :lol:
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Holly
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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by Holly » June 26th, 2011, 10:52 am

Good comments by polymath and GKJeyasingham.

There's the "she said desperately" and then there's the current fashion to blast all LY adverbs.

I throw in a few LY adverbs on purpose. I don't want to sterilize my writing. I want my writing to sound like a living, breathing, coffee-drinking human being wrote the stuff, not somebody writing a business report. When I talk to my friends in person or on email, we all use LY adverbs. A few here and there, especially in expressions of speech we all use, give my writing the flavor of real life.
Last edited by Holly on June 26th, 2011, 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by Transitoria » June 26th, 2011, 4:43 pm

When I do a first draft, I use adverbs knowing that I will come back and get rid of them by using stronger verbs and showing more rather than telling. That first draft looks and sounds like an adverb factory exploded across each page. The point being to get the basic story written down before I forget whatever inspired it in the first place. On the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. drafts (I am the Queen of re-writes), I fine-tune and polish. For that reason, adverbs are needed, even necessary, but never, ever in the finished product.

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Re: Those ghastly -ly words

Post by wordwrestler » June 27th, 2011, 2:48 pm

In my opinion, adverbs, including -ly words, are fine, in moderation. If the best way to get across what you're trying to say to the reader is with the use of an adverb, then why dance around the best solution just because of a blanket rule?

Find the best way to get across the mood, the tone, the style, the information you want to convey. Most of the time an adverb is not the best choice. But sometimes it is.

Just to give an example, why bog down a fast-paced fight scene with a bunch of description when one adverb will do the job? Assuming the information truly enhances the reader's understanding and enjoyment of the scene, of course!

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