Amateur Advice: How and why I get rid of adverbs
Before I delve into this post, I want to apologize to adverbs.
I don’t have anything against you guys. I use you all the time in my day-to-day communications. However, when I am editing my writing, you guys have to ride the red pen out of my work. Sorry.
In my first draft, I don’t worry myself over word choice, pacing, grammar, or any other of those details. If you have read my earlier post, you know that my first draft is usually written by hand to eliminate distractions and turn down my internal editor. A first draft’s goal is to get the story out of my head, and onto the page. After I get the story out it is time to do my first edit.
The first edit happens during the transition from paper to computer. During this step, I am looking for problems in the structure of the story. I tend to change things for pacing or plot-logic reasons.
The second edit is where I start aiming at those pesky adverbs. The problem with adverbs in fiction writing is that they turn down the intensity of your sentence. If the verb needs a modifier to describe the action, I probably chose the wrong verb. Choosing the right verb speeds up the pace of the story and gives the reader a more clear image.
The specific things I look for when I am hunting adverbs are: “-ly” words, “very”, and the “to be” verbs. Keying in on these instances help me eliminate the majority of unnecessary adverbs in my writing. I replace them with better verbs or a rephrased sentence that more clearly conveys my story.
What are your thoughts on adverbs? Do you have a special way of dealing with them? Please, let me know!