Today’s Writing Tip

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Overuse of adverbs is another symptom of amateur or sloppy writing. Often they can be avoided by using a better verb. For example, instead of saying “He walked slowly” use strolled, dragged his feet, etc. It’s usually possible to incorporate more imagery as well as emotion into the scene by using the correct word.

Getting rid of adverbs is something you should do during your first edit, if not before. One way to find them, as one author friend of mine has noted in this forum, is to search on words ending in “ly”. If stopping to find a better verb interrupts your creative flow, then clean them up later. Just make sure you do. After you’ve been writing for a while and expanded your vocabulary, this will become automatic.

There are certain bad writing practices that are common to new writers and this is one of them. Clean up these bad habits little by little and you’ll eventually be seen as a true professional.

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Today’s Writing Tip

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The last complaint was directly related to style and the skill of the author, i.e. too many adverbs. While useful, they shouldn’t be overdone. Before using one, see if you can find a better verb. More often than not, this can be done and eliminate the need.

For example, instead of saying “she walked slowly” how about “she trudged”, “she strolled”, or “she moped, dragging her feet”? See how the verb also implies imagery and mood? Economy of words increases their impact. Verbs are powerful. Make sure you use them to make your story more vivid. Scrutinize every one to see if you can replace it or really need it.