Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Notes From Carol's Class: -ly words a.k.a adverbs

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but here it is again.
-ly words. a.k.a adverbs

Speedily I drove through the forest.
I fell madly in love with her.
You're deeply troubled.
Happily. Scantily. Sillily. Terrifyingly. Un-happily.

Good writing uses few adverbs, and only necessary adjectives.
Now, most people know that when I'm marking on someone's manuscript I will circle ALL the ly words--even if it's family. This is because I have trained my eye to spot them right away and my fingers to wriggle the pen in a loop around those little letters at the end of words. I do it because Carol taught me to do it, and because I learned the importance of watching what words I use in my writing (and particularly what words others use in their writing)... :)

If you want to say something that uses an adverb, stop and think about different ways you could say it. The point isn't to avoid them completely--sometimes they're useful. But, if used too often they can really muddy a manuscript quickly and irritatingly so. Succinct = good. Use less words and see how it affects your writing. I'm a big fan of the saying "Less is More."


Write on!

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