Showing posts with label Barbara McNichol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barbara McNichol. Show all posts

Here's What You May Not Know About Adverbs

Pesky Adverbs or the Means to Making Pure Gold?


 

Here’s What You Seldom Hear About Adverbs

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, 
writer of fiction, poetry, and the multi-award winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

 

We are often warned that adverbs can be overdone. Then writers take the warning too literally; they think they shouldn’t use any at all! 

 

Of course, we wouldn't have adverbs if they didn't serve a purpose. But when we examine them—carefully (very carefully!) we often find that they duplicate a quality that the verb itself (or another adverb) has already achieved for us. That makes them redundant. 

 

Adverbs are often awkward. Or they slow down the forward movement of a sentence. Or both.

 

Authors often worry when an editor removes their adverbs. They think those edits will change their voices. Though an author can (and should) reject edits that he/she thinks aren't appropriate, these edits of adverbs rarely change a voice. Certainly voice isn't achieved by using adverbs or most other edits. It is achieved by much subtler elements of writing. Point of view. Use of colloquialism or slang. Choice of detail. 

 

For the most part, I think most writers worry way too much on having their voice changed and not enough about improving their writing skills.

 

Having said that, I worry more about editors who don’t really have the training to be editors. Would an editor really remove all of a writer’s adverbs? And how would a new author know if an editor is overstepping if he/she doesn’t have lots of information on editing under his or her own little writer’s belt?

 

I hope those of you who have been relying on an outside editor—someone you hired or a friend—will read The Frugal Editor in its 3rd edition and now published by Modern History Press. It includes lots of do-it-yourself stuff. I know most authors—you?—don’t hire an editor for all the daily stuff they do like writing query letters, media releases, etc.) but this book also includes how to partner with an editor, how to save money hiring an editor, and how to hire one that is compatible with your personality and the kind of writing you do. Many good editors like Barbara McNichol (www.barbaramcnichol.com) specialize in specific genres, nonfiction vs. fiction, etc. Larry Brooks (www.storyfix.com) helps writers of fiction with structure. Good editors know that it is hard to be an expert at everything.

 

Editing is a two-way street. There's gotta be some trust and also some confidence. The more an author knows about editing, the better equipped she or he is to discard or keep edits. That’s comforting. But it’s essential to know things like agents’ pet peeves. They rarely have anything to do with the grammar we learned in the fourth grade.

 

Essential? Yes, because those are the documents you send to the people who have something to say about the future of your book including newspaper and magazine feature editors, movie producers, and the millions of folks who read what you put out there on the web. So, yep. Examine every adverby "ly" word. And then use each one to your advantage. Know the adverbs we usually don’t think of when we hear the term adverbs (like “even” and “just”). There is a list in The Frugal Editor (see Amazon’s new series page for it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTXQL27T .) Make a list of the ones you tend to overuse. Either discard each one or use one of the methods in The Frugal Editor to turn them into more visual writing. Their best quality? Adverbs can turn you into a magician—that is help you turn them into image-producing gold—similes, or better, metaphors.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of publishing. Learn more about her other authors' aids at https://www.howtodoitfrugally.com. She blogs on editing at https://www.thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com and all things publishing (not just editing!) at https://www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo .

 


 

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