Modifier Monday 1

Hello, and welcome to Modifier Monday*, brave souls. Under fire today are adverbs, one of my favorite parts of speech to mercilessly bash. Heh heh. Let’s begin with a quote from the master of suspense, Stephen King, from his book “On Writing”.

“The adverb is not your friend.”

And,

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Some of you will have noticed I used one earlier, but let’s first talk about what they are. An adverb is a modifier, and it simplifies or changes a verb, adjective, or sentence, among other things. Just as above, where I said adverbs are things I “mercilessly bash”, I was modifying the verb bash. But in reality, except for certain cases, I agree with Mr King in that they are unnecessary and are another way for writers to be lazy. Consider:

“The adverb was whipped mercilessly.”

Verses:

“The adverb, strung up and bound at the hands and feet, felt the nine tails of the whip slash through the soft skin of its back. Each tail left a channel of blood and gristle in its wake.”

While you may not agree with the revision for a variety of reasons, don’t you agree that it conveys a more visceral feeling than the simple adverb? Are they avoidable in all circumstances? Maybe. Can they be used with success? Varying degrees. It all depends on the word wielder and the frequency of use. For me, a sentence is always stronger without them and eliminating them forces the author to use description instead of shortcut around it.

Disclaimer: I have used them- past, present, and future.

There’s much to discuss about adverbs. Do you have some examples of appropriate use? When just nothing else will do? Do you like them? Feel free to express your opinions!

 

*originally published on my facebook page, on a Monday

Thought Verbs 1

Thought verbs. What are they? I first came across that term in an essay written by Chuck Palahniuk, which I’ll be quoting. I’d like to begin the first Thought Verb Thursday* with a discussion of what they are. Next week we can dive into each one and discuss how to rid them from our writing, as well as whether or not they should be.

Chuck defines a “thought verb” as words such as:

“Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.”(¹)

Essentially, a thought verb is a verb you use as a shortcut. For example:

  Sidney realized Teddy liked her.

Okay, that’s nice. But in the world of film and TV in which we live, readers are more visual than ever. And I like to think they’re also smarter than ever. They’d like to come to the same conclusion Sidney did on their own. Instead of the word, “realized”, how about this?

  Sidney bolted to her feet, heart racing, knocking one of the greenhouse lights with her head. Teddy stood, arm brushing her face as he reached up to stop its swinging. Warm on her cold cheek, his bicep twitched but didn’t move as she tilted her head toward it. She looked up at him, and the corners of his mouth turned up as his arm came down. His eyes never left hers, and she could see the flush rising in his cheeks. 

There you are, a different way to realize on your own that Teddy likes her, instead of me telling you. What do you think? Better, worse, indifferent? Do you prefer the abstraction of thought verbs? Or are you 100% for “show don’t tell”?

(¹)Again, Chuck’s essay
*This blog was first published on my facebook page on a Thursday

  

Yes, hello, welcome to me.

He we are, together at my first (B)Log post. There’s always a lot on my mind, and you’ll get to read some of it here! Isn’t that exciting?! At some point I’ll probably make a schedule of topics and dates, but for now we’ll begin with random subjects and semi-regular irregular timing.

So you have an idea of what you’re in for, I’ll give you an overview of things I’m interested in discussing. Stories go way at the top of the list. I have always loved to read and I am unashamed to tell you, Stephen King is my favorite author. His son, Joe Hill, is quickly catching him though. I enjoy all things macabre, really, and as such I like to examine plot, character development, and story elements in movies and TV as well. I’ll talk about Supernatural, The Walking Dead, and whatever else fits into that genre. Or not. I’m also a fan of science, space, and sci-fi. I love music, dogs, and humans. Art, history, evolution. The ways we break each other down and the ways we lift each other up. I think you probably get the idea.

I’m working on a couple novels and on being present with my family, and that good old day job, so sometimes I may be here more than others. At first I doubt you’ll see many pictures, but I’ll do what I can to draw you pictures with words. I’ll expound on the craft of writing, and I hope we can have long and productive discussions about whatever it is I’m onto today. Some of the things you will see already posted are my own previous thoughts on a few things, reprinted with my permission because I wrote them.

Fair warning, I will not discuss politics. While that is one of the most important topics today, this year especially, I have less than zero desire to debate about it. I don’t even like to bring it up.

I hope we can hang out together around exciting and compelling things. I want us to have a good time exchanging ideas and learning about each other and the world around us. Have a seat with me on the couch, and let’s get started, shall we?