Monday, September 20, 2010

Novel Update: Adverbs and Names

As previously stated, I've been doing a lot of edits on the book lately. I'm calling them "edits" and not "rewrites", because I'm not doing much in the way of rewriting. I'm trying to wear a somewhat detached editor's hat and slice and dice away the unnecessary bits. Something I couldn't have done a few years ago when I was too close to it.

I went through one half of the book, but not the first half or the second half. It was more like the left half. After julienning it a bit, I cut the fat out of the right half. Now, what I really need to do is read the whole thing from start to finish and make sure it all makes sense now, but I feel like I've just read it twice. Of course I've only just read it once, but even so, how many books have you finished and immediately started reading again? Sure probably a few, but have you ever done it with a book you've already read a million times? In any case, yee olde brain needs another break before it can really dive back into the deep end with a weed-whacker and keen pair of eyes.

But the left-half/right-half go through was very educational. Many times in my life I had heard or read the advice that adverbs really aren't a writer's friend and should be avoided at all costs. Early on in the writing of The Deadworks, I deliberately thumbed my nose at that advice. What did they know, anyway? But this last go around, I studied all those adverbs and "got it" for the first time. Most of them were superfluous. Take a phrase like "he went quickly to the door" for instance. Odds are, if you're using an adverb to describe a verb, there's probably already a verb that means to do that thing with that quality. Like "to rush". So why not just say "he rushed to the door"?

Of course there might not be a verb that means exactly what you're trying to say, or the adverb might just fit better lyrically or thematically in your prose. You're not going to get rid of them all, but choose wisely. I don't want to think about how many times I cut "immediately", "suddenly", "quickly", or "softly".

I wanted to make sure I was doing everything on purpose, which has left me angst ridden about a few of the character names. I changed one, then another. Then I changed the other back to the original. I'm still on the fence about that one and at least two more are on the chopping block. Character names are a hard thing to change this late in the game, but more than anything they have to be on purpose, right?

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting about ye olde adverbs...I must think on it in relation to my novel. Hmmm...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.