I've been wracking my brain for a week to try and come up with a post for today. Actually I have 4 right now in draft mode, all waiting to make the cut. But someone said something to me the other day and it's been nagging at my craw so I thought I'd talk about it.
I'd asked a writer friend to take a look at the final proof for THE LADY'S FATE for me. Make sure everything was looking good. I thought I had written a pretty tight story, cleaned up all the typo's and punctuation and what not. Had all the details in all the right places. Was/am pretty proud of the way it turned out. So this reading was just kind of for my piece of mind.
Now this writer, an excellent "working" writer, gave me some pretty fantastic feedback, of which I was glad. She confirmed all my expectations that it wasn't a piece of doo-da, and even though it won't win a Pulitzer, expelled my doubts that I do indeed write a pretty good story.
BUT, she did say I had to watch my adverbs. I have too many -ly words. However, as she wasn't an avid reader of the historical romance genre, she didn't know if that was the style in which they were written.
And I've been thinking about this a lot. Do I really use too many adverbs, -ly words in my manuscript? And the resounding answer is yes. I do. And I'll tell you why.
I like them. They serve a purpose for me. Don't get me wrong, I mean they're not everywhere , but they are there.
For example -- He quickly bounded up the stairs. Okay, he's bounding, so we know what that means. You can only be bounding one way, and that is quickly, so we don't need to say quickly. Hence, delete quickly.
However, I also have -- She answered brightly. Can you see the expression on her face? I could have written -- She answered with a bright smile. But that's just way too long and brightly does the job in one word instead of four. To me, this is an either or choice. I choose brightly.
Now these are just examples, but you get my drift.
The other reason I use them, is because most readers aren't writers. They don't analyze every single sentence structure for mistakes. They're just reading a book, trying to escape their everyday lives. I mean, that's why I read. To escape.
There was a big hoo-hah a couple of years ago about Dan Brown and his writing style. Writers were dissing him, saying he writes like a hack. Well, you know what, I read Dan Brown on vacation and I thought he was a pretty good writer. You know why, because I was reading as a reader, not a writer. The story sucked me in and kept me reading (until the wee hours one night.) I wasn't analyzing his content, I was swept away with his words. I was in Paris, in Spain, on a plane, on a boat. I was trying to figure out who dunnit, right along with Robert Langdon.
Now I couldn't tell you how many adverbs he used, and quite frankly, I don't care. I just liked his book.
With the Big 6 crumbling, and authors and writers using more and more places to get their work seen and read, yeah, sure, some of it is going to suck. I mean, you have to KNOW the rules, before you break them, and we all don't have agents as gatekeepers. BUT, if you have a great plotline, engaging characters, and keep the pace moving forward, I don't think readers will care if you use a couple of adverbs.
And that's what it's all about really. Isn't it? Keeping the reader reading. So they will say, "Hey, I read this fantastic book the other day, you should read it."
Tell me -- How do you feel about adverbs? What rules do you break? Are there any you would like to break, but just can't because of the way you were taught to write?
(Maybe someday I'll tell you about my aversion to semi-colons.)