Friday, September 7, 2012

My Life as an Adverb

People hate me something fierce, it seems.  And not just me.  They hate my cousin, Adjective too.

Don't believe me?

What happens when I sit next to a verb in some writer's manuscript?  That's right, the same thing that happens when Cousin A. J. sits next to a noun.  I get evicted, forcefully and gleefully.  If the writer isn't striking me out then his editor is.  A. J. says it ain't pretty at all when it happens to her.  Well, I agree wholeheartedly.

I remember fondly the days when I was celebrated on television.

Schoolhouse Rock

Why, I've seen some writers come up with entire sentences just to get rid of me.

A couple weeks back my former best friend, Willie Writer, used A. J. and me in the same sentence describing an awfully pretty necklace.  Then somebody has to go and tell Willie that A. J. and I don't belong in that sentence.  Out we went!  Willie used seventeen words to replace us!

Discrimination, I say.  Discrimination!

So you think you've got it bad, do you?  Try being an adverb nestled neatly within the pages of a manuscript sitting on an editor's desk.  Then we'll talk.

Excuse me, won't you?  I'm writing a strongly worded letter to the editor.

Treat Cousin A. J. and me nicely, okay?  And as always, write wisely!

18 comments:

  1. You make a good point. I don't usually mind one adjective for any given noun, as long as it doesn't mess with the pacing, but any more than that can be bothersome. However, -ly adverbs are simply (haha) annoying in about seventy percent of cases, although they have their place as well.

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    1. Yes, pretty much everything has its place, I suppose. I try to avoid them when replacing them yields a better read, but I haven't developed the fear or repulsion towards them that many in the industry have. I'm not one who subscribes to the notion that the existence of an adverb or adjective indicates "lazy" writing.

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  2. Funny but this is a matter that had me thinking hard for the last weeks or so. It has become the most puzzling question I have, just after what's true self-consciousness in relation to the Cosmos?. It seems to me adjectives and adverbs are seen more like heretic words in English writing. However, in Spanish they are rather praised. I learned to love literature from reading classics full of both of them. But then again Spanish has 15 different words you can use to say the same. It is supposed to be adorned. I think this adverb, adjective thing has been my greatest challenge in this attempt to write novels in English. I feel "caged and grey" trying to write like this sometimes. Stranger in a strange land.

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    1. There are plenty who consider them so. I recently finished A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's about 100 or so years old and adverbs are everywhere, but I didn't find that it detracted from the story. I'm in the middle of a book published this year that is replete with them. I would probably not use as many as appear in that one, but I don't automatically strike out every single one of them either.

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  3. What a different way to convey and issue brought up many times! And I can't really recall any particular blogger who has linked to Schoolhouse Rock.

    I think I have an idea for a Monday post...

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    1. I LOVE Schoolhouse Rock. (Have a few more posts I'm working on that play off of it too.)

      Glad to have sparked an idea!

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  4. This is awesome. I miss adjective and adverbs! As long as they don't bring their whole family, they are welcome in my manuscript.

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    1. Thanks! Sometimes we have to step out of our characters' shoes and into the shoes of the prose itself. LOL.

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  5. I have to work on putting adjectives in. I don't mind reading them, but if there's more than one in a row it usually means there's a better word out there. Our job as writers is to choose the best word, even if it ends in LY.

    Lauren

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    1. Ah yes, and sometimes it does end with LY. Valid indicator though about having two or more in a row.

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  6. Funny! Sorry guys, I'm learning to use you sparingly.

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    1. Just a pinch for seasoning, eh, Alex? :)

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  7. This was awfully clever. I enjoyed it immensely! I absolutely don't know how you came up with the idea, but you executed it brilliantly!

    Seriously--oops, see what you've done.

    No, but really--oops again.

    I got a good kick out if this.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it! My approach to things like this is a little from left field (or beyond) more often than not. Honestly! ;-)

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  8. Hi again, and thanks for stopping by my blog. You asked about my revision process. I wrote a lengthy explanation of it as a follow-up comment if you want to go take a look. Hope your own writing is going well.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know! I checked it out and replied. Catching blogs has been very hit and miss for me this week since I've been on vacation.

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  9. Very eye-opening, Jeff! Great post! :)

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    1. Thanks! I have a lot fun writing these kinds of posts.

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