Monday, May 8, 2017

Unexpectedly, The Adverb Turned into a Swan!


          Contrary to some self-help advice, the adverb should not always be the first to go in the revision of the first draft.
          Yes, it is often overused, but it is also misunderstood.
          Most often the rule of thumb is to eliminate all adverbs, especially those with an -ly ending, but a better measure is to read the sentence both with and without the adverb.  If the sentence is stronger without, then do without the adverb. Another common piece of advice is to eliminate the adverb and substitute the verb with a stronger version, one that blends both the original blah verb and the overworked adverb.
          But better yet, why not look at the adverb from a new perspective?  Use it to change the meaning of the verb; use it to contrast with the verb, and not just to modify or intensify the verb.
          Do not look at the adverb as a simple -ly annoyance no one wants to claim, but look at all its many versions.  Besides the single-word adverb, which when used to contrast with the verb can be very effective, remember your high school English classes.  There is the adverbial clause, the adverbial infinitive, the adverbial participial phrase.
          The adverb is a swan; not just an ugly duckling. (Pun on the -ly ending.)
          Let’s review:
1.      Opening adverb (at the start of a sentence and separated by a comma):
Mistakenly, adverbs are usually the first to go in the revision of the first draft.
2.    Delayed adverb (tucked inside the sentence and surrounded by commas):
Beginning writers are advised, indiscriminately, to eliminate all adverbs and replace them with stronger verbs.
3.    Adverbial clause (a clause – has a noun and verb in it - that explains the verb further):
They edit all adverbs, slashing as they go, although the original sentence was stronger because of them.
4.    Adverbial infinitive (an infinitive – to plus the verb - that explains the verb further):
The trusting, new writer sometimes sacrifices his voice to pacify general advice.
5.    Adverbial participial phrase (-ing word that creates a phrase (non-sentence) that explains the verb)

Studying the correct use of the adverb, the writer can contrast and manipulate it to create lyrical prose.  

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