Why? Because of all those pesky ‘ly’ words we writers aren’t supposed to use, yet every other published author does. Come on, raise your hand if you’ve ever heard some author/agent/editor/writing guru pontificate on how writers should never, ever, ever, use adverbs, especially in dialogue tags. If you do, you risk rejection, ridicule, and the slow destruction of your computer keyboard while you watch. Now, keep those hands up if, after hearing these dire warnings from on high, you’ve gone home and picked up a book with which to relax the evening away and within the first few pages you read something along the lines of:
“It is logical that you should fire the phasers, Captain,” Spock said adroitly.
“I suppose you’ve never been in this situation before,” Kirk said cynically.
Spock looked at his friend, almost amusedly, Kirk thought.
What was your reaction after reading this? Probably something along the lines of:
…said by you disgustedly. Followed by a beating of your fists against the couch cushions. Angrily.
Rules. Doncha just hate ‘em?
Fear not writer friends, for I have the answer to your problem. The solution is very simple. Get out your pen and your notepad and prepare to write down the solution. Ready?
Forget the rules.
Okay, let me clarify. Yes, there are basic grammar rules everyone should follow. Generally, everybody does most of the time. Stay with one point of view throughout a chapter or scene; never end a sentence with a preposition; don’t split infinitives; don’t start a sentence with a conjunction; avoid over using fragmented sentences. However, you know and I know and even my cat knows, these and every other rule are broken time and time again. So maybe the solution should be: remember the rules, but don’t get unduly fettered by them.
Being a former editor for the publisher of my first two books (Night Shadows and Beta. Buy them for your Kindle, Nook or computer at fine Internet stores near you) and also a book reviewer for three websites, I have learned to more easily recognize mistakes in others’ books. Which is not altogether a bad thing. The ability to spot a grammar error does not necessarily destroy my enjoyment of the story. Yes, there are authors who have an atrocious disregard for the rules, but those are the few who didn’t learn them in the first place. However, the point I want to make is this. Recognizing others’ mistakes helps with my writing because I can then edit myself early on instead of tearing my hair out correcting and correcting on the many rewrites. Plus, if I can eliminate the errors right away, I make my editor happy because I’m turning in a relatively clean manuscript.
When I attend camps and instructional seminars for taekwondo I receive a lot of advice. My instructor has told me several times to listen to the advice, put it into practice, and see if it works. If it does, great. If not, then disregard.
I think the same can be said of grammar rules, including adverbs. See if you can spark your creativity into not using adverbs. You’ve probably heard from these same people mentioned above that the tension and clarity of the scene/paragraph/sentence should tell the reader how somebody is acting or how somebody is speaking. If the woman is being threatened with a gun from the bad guy, you may not need to tell the reader she said something ‘fearfully’. This is where your creativity plays a part. Build a movie image in your reader’s mind to where there is no doubt as to the ‘ly’ word meant.
If you cannot adequately do so or if there is a legitimate need, then go ahead and use the adverb. Go ahead and split the infinitive, start the sentence with a conjunction, use fragmented sentences. I think if there is no other choice and you cannot write the sentence any other way, and you can justify the violation, then more than likely it will be accepted. Maybe. Unless you get a snooty, hard-nosed editor (not mine, of course), or a snobbish, egotistical critique group member who will lower the hammer on you every time.
Remember this rule that should never be broken: Ultimately, the story is yours. Stick with your guns if you desire. Yes, you may face consequences you may not like but if it helps you sleep at night…
A sarcasm font? Why not? At least one bit of the rules of grammar would be obsolete. On the other hand, some schmoe would want to take it a step further and want a sadness font or and angry font or a…
Do your best. Good luck…
…he said dejectedly.
I always urge visits and comments on my blog, but I would like to invite you to visit another blog today because of a special surprise. If you go to
http://tbrtheblog.blogspot.com/ you’ll see an interview with me. “What’s so special about that?” Well, the giveaway at the end. Plese visit and comment on what Christmas present you’d give my gal Mallory Petersen and you’re eligible for a chance to win a free copy of Beta. What could be better than that?
And, as always, thanks!