Abolishing Adverbs

I have officially finished both a first draft and a first rewrite of my novel! I’d feel better about it except that this baby still has me on a pretty tight timeframe (four weeks till D-Day!) and the writing needs a lot of improvement. I feel pretty good about the characters and plot, even a lot of the dialogue, but it still needs help. So! Today, I printed out the entire manuscript and I’m doing an on-paper read-through. While I’m looking for weak points and places to expand or cut, my main goal is to go through and highlight all the adverbs so I can reduce redundancies and tighten my writing. Holy cow, are there a lot! I did a quick find and replace for the letters –ly and found 808 instances. They don’t all need to die—just the majority. I don’t really need my heroine to “say softly” when she could just whisper, or have some guy “run quickly” when he could sprint. It’s a lot of work—just going through and circling them all is wearing me down, but when I can go back and show through dialogue or actions how someone is being sarcastic versus writing “she said sarcastically,” I think I will be much happier!


3 responses to “Abolishing Adverbs

  1. Abolishing adverbs… brilliant! Wish more writers would have your insight.

  2. Adverbs do manage to sneak in a lot, don’t they? Sometimes they’re needed, but other times they can be easily replaced. Be careful not to be abuse speech tags though!

  3. Ali,
    I think I share this with every young writer I meet. It’s essential.

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