One of the sure signs that you’re reading an amateur, no matter how many books he or she has sold, is that hanging adverb in his/her dialog tag. This is, simply put, no-no numero uno in regards to fiction writing.
Adverbs are the lazy man’s way to penning fiction. The mission of any worthy writer (not merely a storyteller) is to eliminate as many adverbs as possible—in not only our dialog tags but also our narrative and our descriptive writing; we want to activate our writing.
We should never write: “And we both know you’re an expert,” she said sarcastically. That’s a lazy writer’s passage. Instead, we take the time to craft our message; we offer, instead, something sharper and more direct: Mary deadpanned, “And we both know you’re an expert.” The vision, the image, is much clearer in the second passage.
We don’t say, “He ran swiftly.” We say, “He sprinted.”
We don’t say, “She held him tightly.” We say, “She clenched him.”
We don’t say, “He looked at her angrily.” We say, “He glared at her.”
While this may seem like a minor thing, crafting one after another activated passage amid a 40,000 to 50,000-word story expedites your delivery, ensures that your voice is clear and concise, and enhances your overall style.
Instead of the lazy, muddled, inefficient, and amateurish adverb game…
Active it all!
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