Tag Archive - adverbs

How to Make Your Sentences More Descriptive

Today’s guest post is by Jordan Conrad.

The purpose of writing is to communicate information. This is true for writing of all types—for fiction and nonfiction, for creative and technical, for business and legal.

A work of fiction communicates information by telling a story, while an email to an employee communicates information in a much more direct way.

In either case, the author accomplishes the goal of information sharing by using descriptive language to convey detail.

Here is a passage that isn’t very descriptive:

  • Beth first met her spouse in California.

The sentence is fine grammatically, but it isn’t very interesting. What were they doing in California? How did they meet? Did they fall in love head over heels, or did their relationship grow over time as they got to know one another? Continue Reading…

Writers, Wipe That Smile off Your Page

This week editor Robin Patchen wraps up our look at Fatal Flaw #11 – Pesky Adverbs and Weasel Words. If you’ve missed the other posts, start with this one here.

It’s been said (by someone) that 93% of communication is nonverbal, and of that, 55% is pure body language, including facial expressions, hand gestures, and postures.

For instance, take the word sure. If it’s delivered with a big smile, it means something very different than when it’s delivered with a glare. One is agreement, the other sarcasm or distrust.

We authors know this—we’re students of human interaction, after all. So it makes sense that we so often include facial expressions and body language in our stories.

But these nonverbal descriptions can quickly become weasel words and bulky phrases, shoved into our paragraphs to convey quickly—and perhaps lazily—our characters’ feelings and reactions. Continue Reading…

Oh, Those Lovely Adverbs

Since we’re examining pesky adverbs and weasel words this month on Wednesdays, I couldn’t resist sharing this entry that I wrote for our compilation book: 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing (which you can buy online here). Debate rages over whether adverbs are bad for your writing (like too much sugar in your diet?). See what some writers, famous and otherwise, have to say about these “pesky” critters and share your thoughts in the comments.

One of my editing clients just this week wrote and asked me, “What’s the problem with adverbs? Are they really bad to use? Why does everyone say I should take them out of my book?”

Adverbs do have a bad rep. Stephen King was quoted (and endlessly re-quoted) for saying that fantasy author J. K. Rowling “never met an adverb she didn’t like” (and that wasn’t a compliment). Out of curiosity, I read some comments on one of the Harry Potter forums (www.Potterforums.com) to see if “normal” readers are bothered by them as well—or if it’s just us authors that have a bug up our broomstick. Here’s one comment: Continue Reading…

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