Adverbs, Dickens, and the Thesaurus

I spent the last few weeks doing a major editorial overhaul of my latest manuscript.  We took a last-minute mini-vacation and I spent most of my time reading and writing.  My eyes were staring to get crossed and bleary.  I focused on tackling suggested edits (the overuse of compound verbs and -ly adverbs) in my manuscript.  I’ll be honest, when I first got the initial critique mentioning a massive re-edit, I had three thoughts:

1.  Boy, I’m grateful someone who doesn’t know me from Adam is willing to take a few minutes out of their day to provide specific feedback on how to improve my writing.

2.  Dan Brown uses lots of -ly adverbs.  However,  I’m not Dan Brown (although he is also from the Granite State).

3.  I really, really, really love -ly adverbs.  They’re lovely!   They’re extremely fun!  Alas, I just shouldn’t use them so profusely.

So, I gathered up a red pen, a purple pen, my beloved Thesaurus, chai tea and some determination, and I went to town.  I slashed and hashed my way through verbs and adverbs like I was playing Gauntlet (yikes, did I just date myself?).  I found ways to be much more creative with my verbiage, and I’m pleased with the result.  I want to do a few more reads just to make sure I caught all the issues, fixed all the bugs, etc. but I’m happy.

In other news, I saw this post by the Paris Review about some of Dickens’ manuscript pages for Great Expectations.  The article brought back happy memories.  While I was an undergrad at WPI (back when it was still Worcester Polytech), I was lucky enough to be able to transpose and catalog some of the personal letters and notes Dickens wrote (part of the Fellman Dickens Collection in the Gordon Library).  I remember holding a book Dickens signed and thinking to myself: “Charles Dickens held this.  He wrote in this.”  To me, it was akin to shaking his hand.

Also, on a follow up from an earlier post, I am not the only person to have experienced Thesaurus confusion: Check this out!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Adverbs, Dickens, and the Thesaurus

  1. Great post, you have a good sense of humor. I wish I could get to the point where I have to check for adverbs, my nano novel is so, so much worse. Good luck with your work, you have a wonderful attitude!

    • Thanks! I think everyone has their own preferences for writing style, and the subjectiveness can be frustrating. Good luck with your novel! Getting started is half the battle.

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