Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hey You! Drop That Adverb!


We all know what adverbs are, correct? They take a plain old verb, dress it up with an ‘ly’ word here or there and give it all kinds of nuanced meaning.

Recently, The Prude’s writing buddies told her reluctantly that adverbs unfortunately are currently Not in Style.  Sadly, Your Prude carefully reread her work and grudgingly admitted that she suffers rather severely from B.O.A.T. (Broad Overuse of Adverbs Tendency). She realized she should immediately rectify this tendency by stringently limiting her use of adverbs.

Take, for example, the above paragraph. Stripped of adverbs, it reads:
The Prude’s writing buddies told her that adverbs are Not in Style. Your Prude reread her work and admitted she suffers from B.O.A.T. She realized she should rectify this situation by limiting her use of adverbs.

There you go. Nice, terse, spare sentences. Sentences that get right down to brass tacks with no shilly-shallying. Verbs that stand alone, stripped of their adverbs. The Prude is thinking those verbs look downright chilly.

There is a parallel writing style, all the rage, that encourages one to show, through action and description, what is occurring. This style also uses Strong Verbs. Verbs that need no help from any floofy adverbs.

So The Prude’s paragraph in this manifestation would read:
In the short time preceding this post, The Prude’s writing buddies, their brows furrowed and their voices hushed, apprised her that adverbs, whose fortunes have been declining, are at this present time Not in Style. With overflowing eyes and lurching stomach Your Prude scrutinized her work and was aggrieved and nauseated to discover herself rocking in the B.O.A.T. She clapped her hand to her forehead and lost no time bailing this flood of adverbs.

See? Strong, muscular verbs. Metaphors. Visual images. The above paragraph is virtually dog-paddling in them, with nary an adverb in sight.

The Prude will work hard in upcoming posts to stay away from the B.O.A.T. She expects things will go swimmingly…

4 comments:

Lori said...

Beautifully written. Hilariously funny. I am hugely proud of you. Perhaps you can single-handedly set the trend for the reintroduction of adverbs into writing society. The adverb-lovers of America (A.L.A.) would be hugely appreciative! Keep up your astonishingly witty efforts, and dont' be afraid to adventurously rock the boat.

Tammy said...

Your writing friends are merely jealous of your superior wit and style. They are maliciously decieving you in order to hopefully diminish your writing potential. I suggest you firmly ignore them!

Now I'm off to hopefully slay the comment dragon so I can finally post.

The Prude said...

Tammy, take everything The Prude says with a thousand or so grains of salt.
My writing buddies are really great encouragers. Who like adverbs. They are just warning me of the dragons who stand at the the door of the publishing world. And they all know because everyone in my writing group is published. Except me.

Sue said...

I am crying in hilarity. Oh man! I love it when you write...!