Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adverse Adverbs? ~Tanya Hanson

...the Holy Spirit will teach you ... what you ought to say. Luke 12:12

     Years ago, a movie about a hapless teacher in a summer-school class of misfits had me laughing out loud. One dork needing at least a D used the word “very” 197 times in a 200-word essay. So in my own classroom, the word “very” was Number One on my freshmen’s Do-Not-Do This In Your Writing list.
     Very. The little filler adverb used to enhance another descriptor.
     In romance writing these days, adverbs, even healthy full-bodied adverbs, seem to be something to avoid.  You know, those lovely words telling how or why or where. In the deeper Point of View, the reader wants to Feel, not to be told. So the tag, he said angrily, might become:  He smacked his hand on the table.
     Something like that. And I get it. (Truth is, I’m finding most speech tags better off if they become an action by the speaker, but that’s another topic.)
     Back to adverbs:  Do you think: In the tight boots, she walked clumsily to the tractor...is better off written as:  In the tight boots, she wobbled to the tractor.
     I can feel myself wobbling in awkward footwear, whereas in the “walked clumsily” I am the observer.
     Make sense?
     So...I checked through the short story I’m about to send to my editor. Yup. I found surprisingly spry in a description of an old man. Two definitely’s. One Quickly...One Seriously...Hands he shamefully ached to hold.
     I even came across a serendipitously askew in terms of a brown Stetson that’s crucial to the story. (Oh, the word is so lovely and so works.)
     I discussed this with my daughter, who graduated cum laude from one of the country’s top journalism schools. She said, "Mom, I’m always criticized that my writing is too flowery. I’m not the best source here."
     And so I come to you.
     What do you think about adverbs in general or mine in particular?
     Should I work on the ones I found in my latest WIP:
     Do adverbs make you nuts when you read them? Are they good when used sparingly? Do they make our works too flowery?
     Share your thoughts and ideas with me today!


Seeing Daylight, Book Seven in the Hearts Crossing Ranch series: A beautiful attorney widowed by a foolhardy man...a successful builder vanquishing guilt over his wife's death. Can they rebuild faith and find love enough to give each other and their kids a happy home together?

Come say howdy at www.tanyahanson.com. I'm also at Tanya Hanson, Author at Facebook and @TanyaHanson, twitter. I am multipublished in many genres and will soon begin a series for Middle Graders under a pen name, to honor my two little grandsons. The final novella set at Hearts Crossing Ranch will probably be out late 2015. It's a little hard to say good-bye to those ranch folks, but there are many more trails for me to follow.