Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Look Greenly All The Time - A Defense for the Lowly Adverb

Here's a blurb I put on the CW list the other day.
I like my ideas and decided to post it here.

I look greenly at people all the time. I'm coming out of lurking
status because of my passion. Oh, the poor misaligned adverb! I
absolutely, unequivocally believe in this lowly part of speech.
Every writer (except romance writers, ahem, my eyes are shifting
left and right) want to give adverbs the boot out of the English
language. I postulate that said book with gal looking greenly at
hottie was really a romance novel in the thin disguise of a thriller
or perhaps a paranormal action drama, but I digress. Personally, I
love the adverb. They are so friendly, cuddly, and absolutely fab.

Oh, children's writers (and others) stop, cease, and back off your
attack on the wonderfully modifying adverb. I ask you --where would
we all be without adverbs? What would we do during our rewrites? I
think I'd lose sleep if I didn't get to agonize every time I wrote
an adverb and then re-agonize when I got rid of it.
Don't think I haven't sought therapy. Once, I even went so far as to
ask "what the heck is an adverb good for anyway" in a communion of
many learned writers.

"Oh, just get rid of them," one author said greenly. Did I mention I
have a mild case of synthestesia? I digress again. (That's the ADD.)
Well, these learned writers agreed whole heartedly with the author.
How pleasant, an absolute consensus among peers.

I went on an adverb deleting rampage. It went on for days. Until
that fateful day I trotted into Barnes and Noble (I usually hang at
the local independent) and I picked up a stack of similar
aforementioned thrillers and paranormal action dramas (cough, cough,
romances in disguise) and found adverb abuse the likes of which
could not be repeated here. I'm sure coronaries would ensue.The
other thing I noticed was that the stack of thrillers and paranormal
action dramas were all bestsellers. Is there a conspiracy? Is all
this adverb abuse talk to confuse us, to lull us into an adverb
slashing stupor while certain "writers" are raking in the millions?
I don't know, but I'm asking questions, or maybe I should write
romances and be done with it.

Postscript: Where's the adverb love?

Here is a real life incident.

I was standing by a window once and it was raining.
A group of people, not facing the window, were discussing the weather.

"There is a 20% chance of rain," one said.
"There will be sunshine all weekend," another said.
"I'm so glad it's not going to rain today."

"It's raining right now," I said.

"That's not what the weather man said," another said in a superior tone.
"You really should listen to the experts when it comes to complex systems like the weather."
"But look out the window," I said.
"You really should stay more informed," yet another said.

I pointed at the torrential downpour, but the conversation moved on to where they planned to eat lunch. Not one of these people ever looked out the window.

This led me to the best advice I can give writers:

Get out there in the words, in the stories --
don't talk about your craft, know you craft.

3 comments:

janet Carey said...

Why throw all the adverbs out? I'm suspicious of these "all or nothing" kinds of attitudes anyway. Sometimes adverbs do just what they're meant to do in a line of prose. Lazy writing is one thing, but stripping down the language leaves us with thinner, less lush fiction. Go for rich writing and use the right words whatever they are.

MollyMom103 said...

I'm with Janet. Thanks for a little adverb love. Let's keep on modifing those sentences, verbs, adjectives and even other adverbs if we want!

MollyMom103 said...

I'm with Janet. Thanks for a little adverb love. Let's keep on modifing those sentences, verbs, adjectives and even other adverbs if we want!