One of the first things I learnt about writing was how to pack the suitcase of every adverb I had met, tell them our relationship was over, they were not the clever words I thought they would be, and give them a first class flight to the land of Anywhere- Other-Than-My- Manuscript. Oh, they look pretty, batting their eyelashes so your don't comprehend the devastation that the "ly" hanging off their butts can bring.
Good sentences become clumped with empty, fat words lazying on sun decks, flat on their backs, sipping lemonade no less, while squeezing out all the other words that would work hard to create mood, paint pictures and become an original voice. In short, we start writing things like, "she yelled loudly." Do people yell any other way? Worker ant verbs like smash, clomp and splatter used in earlier sentences might have shown the reader that She ain't happy...
I don't think there is writer anywhere who can afford to let there words become a six course meal of mashed potatoes served up in fast food boxes rather than a delicious extravaganza of flavour served on the best silverware we have to offer.
I am thus ignoring knee- bended groveling and blatant pleading from adverbs that sounds a lot like, "Your readers will never understand the angst in that sentence you just wrote if you don't use me! What kind of a writer are you? I am the word Menacingly after all!"
I have heard similar sobs stories from the words quickly, clearly, surely and finally.
And frankly I now skip the tearful goodbyes and dump those bad boys on the street. That's right. I don't even drive 'em to the airport.
Yeah...I am editing. Can you tell?
But I cannot say it better than the master, Stephen King:
"I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout if from the roof tops. To put it another way, they are like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn it looks pretty and unique, if you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day... fifty the day after that...and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but then it's - GASP!!- too late."
Ah yes.... said by the man who also wrote "... for all have sinned and fallen short of editorial perfection."
I fall short Stephen, how I fall short.
But thanks to a few wonderful editors, the input of talented writers and some diligent trawling through every piece of advise on writing I can legally download, google, beg, borrow or buy I am learning to spot those lounge dwelling, overinflated, lemonade sipping adverbs before they invite their friends over.
What about you? Do you have to constantly work at weeding you garden? What's the best advise you ever got on editing your writing?
Disclaimer: No adverbs were hurt in the making of this blog post.... okay, I lie. I hurt plenty of them... and I don't care. A lucky few made it to the airport...