Saturday, August 09, 2008

Maybe it's just me

...but lately I've read books where characters have laughed, thrusted or coughed....enthusiastically. Now, I'm all for enthusiasm, but this use of adverb actually makes me stop reading for a moment and envision the character doing one, or all three, of these actions just to see how it might be done.

And what about the overuse of using adverbs in dialogue tags when the simple, plain-spoken "said" will do just fine? I offer into evidence:

....he admonished gravely....she said expectantly....he stated methodically

Now this is just the writer showing off. Give us a few adverbs here and there, but not for every character on every page.And then, let's talk about these recent examples:

squinted dangerously
turned slowly
asked tearfully
fearlessly faced
methodically swiped

The first one just sounds painful. I tried to do it just now and I can confirm, it's a real task. And the rest, well, I want to edit them mercilessly.


My rant is done.

Could this be because I have been editing my own beast of a novel this week, using the "find" feature to direct me to all uses of 'ly' in my own work - and discovered how I overused the word probably?Probably.(And if you catch this or other mis-uses in my novel Janeology, well, history will show that was my stylistic use of adverb era.)

And on a musical note, I discovered a cool music site this week to use while you are writing and/or generally scobberlotching your way through my blog. type in your favorite group or song and the site automatically plays the selection for you. (See how I just tossed that adverb out there?) Free registration will save your music preferences for you so.

It's like your own personal radio staion, she said enthusiastically.

Visit me at

1 comment:

Cheryl Tardif said...

I agree that 'ly' words are overused, although sometimes they are necessary. I've edited books for others and it's a peeve of mine too. I'm not however sold on 100% use of the verb "said" as some writers are.

My rule of thumb is this: if the verb describes the action in all ways necessary, then that's all that is needed; however, if more is needed to descibe that action, then use a different verb or a 'ly' adverb. "Slowly" or "quickly" can really change the mood.

Like you, I do a "ly" check for my final edit. Gotta love that Find tool!

Signing off...enthusiastically,
Cheryl Kaye Tardif