Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Sin of Adverbs and Adjectives

Have you ever gone through your written story and taken out every adverb and adjective?  How about every word, sentence, phrase, paragraph and line that does not propel the story forward? Try it.  What is left behind is your story.

Thanks to the marvelous instruction of a class I took from Diane D'Andrade, professor and editor, I learned this technique.  Was I ever surprised by how much was cut out--how short my piece became.

Next, go back over the story and selectively add the words, adverbs and adjectives that enhance the story, not show your audience how great you are with a Thesaurus.  Your story will go up the ladder in professionalism.

On one of those flung out existentialist things, I believe this to be close to what spiritual masters are hinting at when they say to not judge, live in the moment, and speak your truth (that's a lot of stuff all rolled up into one sentence, so bare with me).  Writing what has been referred to as an honest sentence, one without fanfare--just the facts, forces a writer to examine every word that is adhered to the paper.  No glossing, no tricky word play, no superficial junk.  A story, a life, a way of being that does not judge what is being portrayed.  It is wiping your ego off the slate and attempting to give a story that is not about you, but about the story.

Is using the word 'story' twice in one sentence a writing faux paus?

Heather Leigh

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