My writing is afflicted with a horrible disease.
Adverb’s Disease shows as weak little words attached to verbs. They add nothing to the story and just take up space and time. A pure waste of ink!
Diagnosed by one of the reviewers at this week’s Writers Workshop, I searched for words ending in “ly” in my manuscript and, by golly, he’s right.
Depending on the chapter, my writing could be dangerous or fatal to readers.
The editor I use for big writing is Scrivener and, in the screen capture to the right, it has marked all the words ending with “ly” from the latest edit of Chapter Four: Waking Up in Serpent’s Smile. All of the nasty red spots shown here are adverbs.
The good news is they are often easy to eradicate. In most cases, adverbs add nothing to the story and can be deleted.
Here the first paragraph “before”.
Spence awoke, the vision of the body dropping away with the man’s head still cinched tightly in the murderer’s choke hold, played in his mind’s eye as his senses slowly awakened.
Spence awoke, the vision of the body dropping away with the man’s head still cinched in the murderer’s choke hold, played in his mind’s eye as his senses awakened.
Looks pretty easy, yes?
The challenge is that in the course of a year of writing in blissful ignorance of this affliction, I’ve spewed them into every chapter, sometimes every paragraph and sometimes several times. Over the entire novel, there are hundreds if not thousands.
The only way–there goes one, did you see it?–to catch them all is to hand-check every “ly” in the story.
Perhaps the pain in my butt from sitting in this chair all those hours to check and expunge these nasty buggers will remind me not to put them in there in the first place.
P.S. (11/20/2016): Wow, that was quite an infestation! While the past two months have seen more changes than just expunging worthless adverbs, and there’s been some other “work” going on during that same time, there were still hundreds of those nasty, little buggers to be nit-picked into nonexistence. A few remain where “the author” judged them worthy but, yeah, I hope I’m over that particular illness.
4 thoughts on “Adverb’s Disease”
That isn’t to mean they shouldn’t be used at all, just sparingly?
I’d disagree that they add nothing to the story. They’re often necessary and read well, though I’d agree about adverb overuse.
After the edit, I kept one in twenty. They are now used sparingly. :)