Monday, January 24, 2011

The Dreaded "LY" words

Personally I think these words have gotten a bad rapt. I mean what is so wrong with rapidly, adoringly, stupidly? Take this sentence for example: A gate slid open rapidly and silently. Don't worry I know, too many ly words. But how else do you write it? I can see where abuse of these words could happen. Like the above mentioned sentence. So honestly(hehehe) how do you write without using these words? Anyone know the answer?


C. K. Bryant said...

I half expected the old gate's rusty hinges to make a hidious creak when I shoved it open with a little too much force. But instead there was only silence. Even the solid thunk it made when it came to rest against the stucko wall seemed hushed, as though down-filled pillows had been place behind it.

See, no "ly" words. Ta Da :)

RaShelle said...

Eagerly. Quietly, I crept down the stairs, hoping against hope to see the scary glow-in-the dark bug. When I arrived at the door, slowly, I turned the handle.


Down, down my throat.

Lifting my shirt, I look at my stomach and see the glow, like a dancing lightning bug.


Yep, ly words. I like them. Of course we don't need them. Nope! But, I like them. LOL =D

Shallee said...

I think they do get a bad rap sometimes. I use them occasionally (see?), but as I've been going through my manuscript to tighten language, I've found ly words usually mean I'm telling more than showing. I've found that if I rewrite the sentence to show what's happening, I've vastly improved it.

Of course, sometimes making the sentence longer that way interferes with the flow of the scene, so I will use an adverb. Sometimes telling is appropriate! It depends on the situation.

Jordan McCollum said...

I think the previous comments have covered it well, but basically there are three reasons why adverbs ending in -ly are so hated:

1. They're telling.
2. They're awkward/weak.
3. They're redundant.

I believe the "rule" came about because of bad usage ("He walked quickly" or "He ran quickly," for examples), but like many rules it's misapplied. (I blogged about this last month. Drives me crazy!)

Jordan McCollum said...

Oh, I should say, that doesn't mean they should be stricken from dictionaries and never, ever, EVER used in novels. There's a place for adverbs, or we wouldn't have them.

kbrebes said...

Maybe "ly" words tire the reader. If misplaced or overused adverbs interfere with the visual going on inside the reader's mind as she reads a scene, then there's a chance the reader might become bored or frustrated and put the book down, maybe never to pick it up again!

Gail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gail said...

Wahoo!! So this is what I need to do to get people do leave comments. Just write about something contriversal. hahahaha Just kidding. I really appreciate all your comments. I realize my laziness and will fix some of my adverbs.:o)

Angie said...

I think in general, adverbs are rather weak words. Verbs and nouns are so much stronger and create a much more vivid picture in the reader's head. That said, there are times when adverbs are fine. There just has to be a balance, I guess.

Nichole Giles said...

"The gate swooshed open without making a sound, but quick enough to startle [insert character name]." No ly. I think the point is that needing an ly adverb means you're using a weak verb. Strong verbs need no adverbs to assist them, yes?

Great post.