Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Those Adverbly Adverbs, la ly ly ly la la la ly la!

I had my blabbity blabs and what a friend of mine once called my "over-thinking everything" personality and now I want to get back to tips on cleaning up your manuscript.

I’ve spoken about dangling participles, tic words, body parts that move on their own, and similes.

Remember, only take in what makes sense to you so you aren't stymied in your progress.

I’m hoping to be “simplistic” in these posts, to help you on your way to recognizing things we all have done, or do.

When something clicks, it’s as if you opened a window and let in bright fresh light—it’s the AHA! moment of recognition. From there, it is up to you how you write your work. But I believe in knowing the rules so you can break them, or keep them, or both. There aren’t many rules I haven’t manipulated, although I do have my own personal pet peeves I am strict about. Find your voice, your style, your own way and fly fly fly. Soon, things will make sense and you won't even think twice about what you are crafting....yay!

Today I want to talk about LY words as they pertain to Adverbs. Now, because language and grammar and Rules are so fluid and strange and weird, not all Adverbs end in LY and not all LY words are adverbs. For example, lovely is an adjective, it describes something or someone, and is not an adverb (and we should watch our adjectives, but that’s another post for another day).

To keep things simple, and for my purposes today, I am speaking of LY Adverbs, because they are easy to recognize simply because of that LY. If you want to, you can place LY in the search box of your Word doc and click “find.” A lot of work? Maybe, but I think it’s worth it. Will we find every little thing in our manuscripts?—Helvetica no! But the more we know intuitively, instinctively, and naturally (*smiling*) the better, tighter, and fluid, our manuscripts will be.

What’s an Adverb? Well, it modifies other words (verbs, other adverbs, adjectives) but I won’t go into all that—as I always tell you, a good Google or Bing or whatever you use to a reputable grammar site will give you more information when you are ready to pursue grammar rules in greater detail. Heck, even I am confused at times and forget what's what in Grammar. But I know it when I see it . . . most of the time . . . haw!

Here is an example of a sentence with LY adverbs:

Kathryn slowly typed her sentence. How did Kat type? Slow(ly)

Barbara quickly ran down the hall. How did Barbara run? Quick(ly)


Carol’s chickens are really beautiful. How beautiful are Carol's chickens? Really


Travis is incredibly handsome. How handsome is Travis? Incredibly

Are those examples so bad? Well, no, except “really” is one of my mentioned tic words! And of course, what does “incredibly handsome” mean to that character/narrator? What if instead the narrator/character, through the writer, told us, or showed us, what made Travis “incredibly handsome” to her. But I digress . . . most digressinglylylyly. We don't want to flower up our work, but we also want to paint pictures so the reader sees what we want them to see in a Better Way that is crisp and tight.

If your manuscript is full of Adverbs, the writing can be stintingly stilted. There is a place for the Adverb, but when over-used, the writing becomes heavily burdened, choppily choppy, and even annoyingly annoying (teehee).

Is there a way to recast without your LY word and still have a beautiful sentence? Or a beautifully written sentence? *grin* Yes . . . there is. And sometimes it takes a little more work and a little more love and a little more paying attention, but it’s worth it, well worth it. Remember I told you people have said, "I had a hard time putting down your book." That means I did my job; I did something right to carry the reader forward. Maybe part of that is good old fashioned Grammar--few adverbs, few dangling participles, few or no body parts acting on their own, few tic words, cutting back on my similes I love so much - maybe?

There is more to our manuscripts than a good story and interesting characters, even if our readers do not recognize why our work is hard to put down or reads beautifullylylyly.

Again, Grammarmartariainians, I am being simplistic here, but if any Grammar Kings or Grammar Queens stop by, please leave suggestions, or links, or ideas as to where readers can go to learn more; we’d be most appreciatingly appreciative…. wouldn't we, everyone?

Google images from: http://z.hubpages.com/u/1250562_f260.jpg



Maria-Thérèse said...

but... but... lovely is an adverb too! She dresses lovely; he sings lovely?

Or should I say it CAN be an adverb?

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

These are great suggestions. It is so easy to just let the words flow in our familiar, easy, habitual way. I have learned to edit some of my adjectives and adverbs and that terrible word, so overused, "that". Hmmmmm, better go back and edit here, before teacher reads it . . . :)

I did jettison 2 words!

B.J. Anderson said...

These posts are really good! ;) I'll have to bookmark this one because grammar is not my strong point. I hate it. Yuck.

Kathryn Magendie said...

hmm, MT -- I have to think on this one - it certainly fits like an adverb, but I still see it as an adjective....still hmmm:

Martha sings lovely. How does Martha sing? Lovely -- wait...hmmmm...hmmmmm Martha is a lovely singer.


Jessica said...

I always made A's in English and scored ridiculously high on the ACT/SAT in english comprehension, but grammar is always my lowest area. I am absolutely (ha) not a grammatician. Heehee. So this post is incredibly, superbly, awesomely helpful. LOL
Thank you! I try to watch my adverbs but I don't think I tend to use them anyways so I might be okay. Hmmmm, now I want to check. LOL
And in case it sounded like I was bragging about my test scores, let it be known that I scored ridiculously low in the math areas. Yeah. Like in the 70th percentile. Very depressing. Wait. The number 58 keeps flashing in my head.
Okay. So I'm horrible at math. Now you all know and any pride I had in my english scores has now been squashed beneath the DREADFULLY heavy weight of my math ignorance. LOL!

But back to you, Kathryn. :-) Great post!

T. Anne said...

OK, I officially ;) hate the letters ly in combination.

Lazy Writer said...

I have a problem with using too many adverbs. At least I was aware of it and went back and fixed it. I enjoyed rewriting my sentences to get rid of the adverbs. It was fun!

Strange Fiction said...

Yay-another thing to add to my search and destroy list. I'm starting to look forward to my next revision mission :)

Janna Qualman said...

Well, drat. I thought I was pretty decent with avoiding the -ly adverbs - at least I thought I was tuned in to them - but I've got 217 in 83 pages of text. Harumph.

Still, good to know!

Janna Qualman said...

I agree, btw. Lovely may be an exception, because it just doesn't work the same way.

Martha sang the song lovingly. Adverb all the way, because it modifies, or "limits or restricts the meaning." If we avoid adverbs, we can use more unique and specific words, get our sentence across with more creativity, and expose our voice all at the same time.

Martha sang the song, and it was lovely. Here it acts as an adjective, because it's a simple descriptor.

Deb Shucka said...

I know adverbs get a bad rap. It's the one part of speech that's the very hardest to teach kids. What I'm wondering is why adverbs even exist if we're not supposed to use them and if they're so incomprehensible? Really.

Kasie West said...

Ah the nastily nasty adverbs. I must readily admit that I overly use adverbs. I'm getting increasingly better though....I think. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

You're awesome. Like a critique group partner, only I don't have to show up every week at your house and sit around for an hour to get that kick in the butt to clean things up!

Cathy said...

Kathy, terrifically done! :) You offer such helpful advise - I appreciate it!!

Barbara said...

Kathryn, Great post! Adverbs are often kneejerk go-to's and your explanation is clear and really helpful! Best, Barbara>>pouring thoughtfully through your grammar posts. Happily! :p)

Natalie W said...

Great lesson on -ly words! My grammar is horrible, i flunked that course in school LOL!
I have an award for you too !!

Lisa said...

You blog is great! Love your writing tips and reviews! I am now a follower! :)

Sandra Leigh said...

I didn't realize that "lovely" could be used as an adverb, but according to Dictionary.com it can - although it is listed as nonstandard. They mention a related adverb, "lovelily", which I think is a horrible word.

"Lovely" is also a noun, (just to confuse matters further) as in "Come away with me, my lovely."

Maria-Thérèse said...

I was just saying they can be both :) It depends on the sentence. If you say "He is lovely", lovely is an adjective complement. If you say "He sings lovely", lovely is an adverb.

Sorry - former teacher & grammar nerd here ;)