10/20/10

The Great Adverb Deletion

I'm currently deeply entrenched in horribly unending edits.
They hate me ardently.
I hate them back. Ardently.
But I am passionately pursuing my lively goal. I'm the little blue engine, I just keep chugging, just keep chugging, just keep chugging, chugging, chugging...

But here is something I've learned: They were right about the adverbs.
I never thought I'd say that. I read all those posts and inside-joke asides to the Great Adverb Dilemma and poo-pooed it. Ha, I thought. They haven't read my adverbs. My adverbs are important. They contribute to the story.

Besides, I'm sparing with my adverbs. There's not that many.

Ha!

And I say again, Ha! Lies, all of them. I put in a search for 'ly' and am still working my way through that one aspect of the manuscript. Not plot, not voice, not something usually dubbed important. No, I'm on page 150 of 171 (this is horrible considering how many days I've been working on this), using the Find function to find words that end in 'ly'.


Yep. That's how I feel looking at the unending list of 'ly' words.

It wouldn't be so bad if I thought I needed them, if they were important. But they're not. See below, all real-life examples taken from my MS:

 ------------------
He swore softly under his breath.
He swore under his breath.

Ivolet drew in her breath sharply.
Ivolet drew in her breath.

She broke off suddenly as they entered the clearing.
She broke off as they entered the clearing.

His voice was very thickly accented. Who wrote this sentence, for crying out loud!?
His voice was thickly accented.

She had no doubt she'd be hopelessly lost within seconds.
She had no doubt she'd be lost within seconds.

...which could only mean that...
...which meant that...

She wasn't entirely sure she trusted herself.
She wasn't sure she trusted herself.

Daniel fidgeted awkwardly.
Daniel fidgeted. Really, can someone fidget not awkwardly?
 -----------
Yeah, isn't this fun? Sure, there's a few 'ly' words that do need to stay, but not many. Not many at all.

Thankfully, I've got beta reading, a Shiny New Idea, and The Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay to give me ample procrastination excuses. :)

We're being honest here. Tell me your editing woes. Speak out in your hatred of adverbs. Or your love of adverbs. Whatever you want to tell me, tell me, especially if it involves making it through edits with a SANE MIND.

2 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I do my best to avoid -ly adverbs, and shudder when I do have to use them. Great idea about doing Find search to make sure you haven't used any you don't need. I'm going to try that out. :D

Lydia Kang said...

I have a trick. I litter my first draft with adverbs to get out what I'm trying to say, and then go back and change them like you did to make the prose better. Works for me!