Explosively,voluptuously,controversially, definitely Adverbial

Adverbs get a bad rap. It’s easy to over-use them. You can just stick one in after a verb and it explains exactly what you mean. No worries about showing motivation or developing character through careful use of actions and dialogue. Nope, it’s all there. Clear and simple. Just in case the meaning was lost when your MC punched an old lady in the face, you can add in ‘menacingly’ and ‘viciously’ and then we’re all on the same page, right? Sort of like hammering your reader over the head with the point.
But sometimes an adverb can work. You just have to make sure it’s not doing all the work. Sometimes it’s like a little bit of icing on a cupcake, or even better a dollop of whipped cream on a slice of chocolate hazelnut torte.
(later). Sorry I just had to wipe the drool off my chin.
If used in moderation adverbs can add a little something. They or rather one can sharpen the meaning rather than dull it down. Just a smidge’ll do ya though. Perhaps you want to let us know that your MC is walking slowly and you’d rather just stick the adverb in there, than write something like ‘he walked with a heavy step’ or ‘as if his shoes were filled with concrete’. It might flow better to use the adverb. It would definitely be simpler and cleaner and perhaps more sophisticated to use the adverb because over-using similes and metaphors is dangerous too, and let’s not forget those pesky adjectives.
I tend to write descriptively. I’m learning to leash this propensity a little but I’m never going to be a nouns/verb writer. I’ll never write down to the bones, although I will use it in my writing as a device. A few stripped down sentences to convey urgency or action. They work great in a fight scene for instance but I think it’s boring to read page after page where the structure doesn’t deviate from a certain formula. Too much flowery prose and you feel over-stuffed, too little and you are hungry.
So what I say is: learn the rules of writing. Much like Picasso had to learn to draw before he started messing around with the human body and face, and making apples square. Learn how a sentence is formed. And then how sentences are put together. Discover the joy of lean prose. And then you can play a little. You’ve figured out the general parameters of the craft, you can bust out, develop a unique style, find your own voice and sometimes break the rules.
Lest you think that I am trying to teach you something, let me just say that I am most definitely in the class too. Back row. Trying to go undetected in case questions are raised, but listening hard, doing the homework and hoping to get the gist of it all some day.
///////////////////////////////////////////////

This entry was posted in posts. Bookmark the permalink.


Comments are closed.