It came up several times on different topics.
It’s okay to break the rules but you have to KNOW them before you can break them.
I started asking WHY.
And I came up with an answer that applies in a lot of places but what struck me was the rule against using –ly words. Mainly adverbs.
Happily, angrily, noisily, nervously.
And here’s the reason why.
AS A RULE using an adverb is lazy. It’s a dead sentence.
And making a LIVE sentence from a dead one is so easy.
Here’s a dead example.
“I’ll never forgive you for this,” she said angrily.
Okay the reason this is lazy and dead is because in essence you are calling your reader stupid. You are writing a sentence that is so clearly angry, then you’re TELLING your reader, “Hey, pssst, in case you didn’t notice, she’s really ANGRY.”
To which your reader reacts by beginning to skim. The author says it right once and wrong once and this book could be cut from 80,000 words to 40,000 in a heartbeat.
Almost always the –ly word is either redundant or it’s an easy way out of what could be a HARD but lively scene.
“I’ll never forgive you for this.” Her eyes brimmed with tears of rage as she jabbed her index finger right at his face. One wrong move and she might put his eye out.
Or another really STRONG way to write it is simply, "I'll never forgive you for this."
That's it. No tags. Let it stand on it's own.
“I can’t speak to my mother like that,” she whispered shyly.
His outrageous advice made her cheeks flame pink. Her shoulders hunched forward as if she was folding in on herself. She shook her head frantically and spoke barely above a whisper. “I can’t speak to my mother like that.”
Now see here, I’ve used ‘frantically’ and ‘barely’. These are adverbs. And thus I break the rules and its okay. There’s not a rule against adverbs because they’re always evil, they are just mostly evil.
If you have been writing a while and go back to look at early work you will see tons of sentences (well I DID!) in your work that are very much like,….she said angrily.
When you’re first beginning and you’re trying to act out a scene you want to tell your readers what your characters are FEELING, thus the adverbs. But they are wrong. They are the easy way out…which also equals the ‘bad writing’ way out.
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For the record, one of my early contest critiques had the words POV ERROR tagged in multiple places. I had no idea what that meant and it took me a couple of more years to fully and deeply understand that rule. So we all have a learning curve and I’m betting mine is as slow of a rise to knowledge as anyone's.
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Bk #2 Wild at Heart Series
Shannon Wilde is the middle sister--and the one who loves animals. She's established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine...until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!
Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.
As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon's land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn't count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad--and trying to hurt the woman he's falling in love with sets off something even he never expected.
"The humorous plot is balanced by suspense-filled drama that unfolds, exposing more of the lives of the Wilde sisters. Readers will be waiting for the third installment with open arms." -RT Book Reviews