Sunday, April 24, 2016
Too Many Adverbs
Yes, I'm talking about 'ly' adverbs. In a six month period of time, I've stopped reading two books because of the overuse of adverbs. One book, published by a traditional publisher, surprised me because I figured an editor would catch this and ask the author to show the emotion, not tell. The more recent book was an independent author. Either way their overuse of adverbs turned me off and made me stop reading the books. Something no author wants.
If you catch what I threw in the last paragraph, 'ly' adverbs TELL they don't show. Here is a telling sentence: She walked gracefully across the dance floor.
Let's get rid of the adverb. She glided across the dance floor. Her gown skimmed the high-glossed dance floor with each quiet, confident step she took.
Better? Did I manage to show how graceful the woman walked?
It's okay to use 'ly' words when writing your first draft, but during revisions they should be a huge indicator that you need to rewrite the passage showing the action or emotion.
Here is another example: He angerily left the room. That is telling. Here is a fix showing how an angry man leaves a room.
He stomped over to the door and swung it open. He spun on his heel, stuck out his neck like a venomous snake ready to strike and fixed his narrowed eyes on me. He backed from the room leaving the door swaying on it's hinges. A boom echoed down the narrow apartment hall and I knew he'd put his fist through the wall.
Do you continue to read a book filled with 'ly' adverbs or is it too distracting?