Editing is cheaper than therapy.

Hello! Welcome to the official blog for my business Chrysalis Editorial and Writing Services. You will find announcements and other business-related things, as well as writing-, editing- and freelancing-related posts. Please check out www.jsalvame-editor.com.

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Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story; to make them forget, whenever possible, that they are reading a story at all.
Asker Anonymous Asks:
I'm having trouble letting go of adverbs, mostly around speaking words like 'laughed', 'scoffed', 'explained' 'dismissed', etc . I try to find verbs that express what I want to use the adverb to say, but sometimes there is nothing specific enough. For example, a character might explain something condescendingly, matter-of-factly, bitterly or any other adverbly, and the emotion of the explain would not be otherwise expressed. Especially when sarcasm is hard show in text. What should I do?
chrysaliseditorial chrysaliseditorial Said:

characterandwritinghelp:

I think something important to remember is that adverbs have a purpose. They are useful, sometimes crucial, and should not be cut completely from your writing. There is a happy medium between ‘so many adverbs your conscious readers will want to bang their head against the nearest solid object’ and ‘no adverbs at all’.

In all honesty, it really comes down to judgment. An adverb serves a very specific purpose—it adds further meaning to a verb. A good rule of thumb is to not use an adverb where a more complex verb will do. Instead of saying someone ‘glared darkly’, you could say they ‘glowered’. Instead of saying they ‘said angrily’, you could say they ‘snapped’. But it’s also important to remember exact definitions and context! Don’t use a word just because you found it in a thesaurus and it sounds cool—be sure you know what words mean and whether or not they apply given the context of the sentence.

Then, decide whether that verb really needs an adverb. Sometimes they do! No one is going to throw things at you for using adverbs sparingly, but that is the key. And if you take the time to look up words, synonyms and their meanings, and if you play around with sentence structure, your writing will become stronger for it. If your character is explaining something condescendingly, maybe describe his or her tone, or perhaps even describe the expression s/he is wearing at the time. For instance:

"… It’s really incredibly simple," she said slowly, as though speaking to a small child. An unpleasant sneer curled her mouth as she stared down at the engineer.

Showing, rather than telling, is another important tool in the writer’s arsenal. But sometimes you just need to tell the readers what’s going on, and sometimes you’ve just gotta modify that verb! Moderation is key, and that’s the bottom line. But don’t be afraid to experiment!

- Hunter

worthcogitation:

OH DEAR! For starters, AP, it wasn’t a crash. MH17 was deliberately shot out of the sky. But that fact would have been little consolation for the bereaved, who would have had a whole new layer of trauma laid down by such a thoughtless tweet.

Of course, I did not work 300 days that year. Freelancers in advertising are paid a decent amount because the implication is that you will not be working every day, and you will need that money to cover the days when you are sitting on your ass. There are many such days. And while it’s a nice idea to spend those off days counting all your freelance money, it’s hard to do that, because you don’t feel like you’re enjoying a day off. You feel like you are unemployed. You feel like a hobo. You feel like you need to get more work before the other work dries up. Most of that money you just made will go to paying your bills or to paying for your health care, Obamacare or no Obamacare. In one case, there was an ad firm that let me come to the office and just sit there on my off days, so I could do work if it came in, or search for work on my own. And I took the firm up on it, mostly so I had a place to go. So I felt like I had a job.

There is little in the way of mental rest. Being a freelancer means never turning down work when offered. You don’t skip a gig because of vacation or anything like that, because you know that’s leaving money on the table. You can see the money burning in your head. And even though a freelancing gig can feel permanent (some joints even give you a desk to work at), that’s a trick your mind plays on you. Deep down, you know you’re not REALLY a part of the office. You don’t get a “happy birthday” email from HR or anything. And lord knows the office has no problem cutting you away at its leisure, never with a formal goodbye or anything like that. You are disappeared, and you are usually the last to know.

worthcogitation:

LOOK ALERT: Not only garbled grammar but also a silly spelling error and from no less than The Australian.

worthcogitation:

TEACHABLE MOMENT: There are times in a story when a table will do the job far more effectively than prose. That’s not sacrilegious, dear wordsmiths, just practical advice. When you have lots of comparative statistics, the figures and comparisons are almost always clearer when they’re positioned side by side in tabular form. These three paragraphs were at the bottom of a lengthy news report, by which time readers were already tiring. A table would have aided comprehension and given the publishers (Brisbane Times) a device to visually break up its text.

lastingimpressionsnovel:

This has been a week of copy editing. As I was researching what such an undertaking would cost me and whom I could trust to do the work, I happened upon a few sets of suggestions to self-edit before sending one’s masterpiece to a total stranger.

Some of them I have on my check (and check again) list. Such as the -ward triplets (toward, forward, backward). I also have a die hard habit of double spacing between sentences. But the adverb thing threw me.

I was unaware of how often I use adverbs.

I use them abundantly. And in many cases they were modifying where they were not needed. In such cases, I deleted without mercy. In others, the adverbs added to the style of the phrasing. Most of those were left intact. Sometimes I had to reword a sentence.

But there were several instances in which the adverb saved me a handful of other words. Those stayed in.

I was pleased to find I used them less frequently in dialogue, and in a long section of narrative explication by one character to another, I used only two adverbs. So, at least I give my characters different voices from my narrator.

p.s. Of course the long section of narration is punctuated with reactions to break it up.

p.p.s. I’d love to skip to the bit where the film version is green-lit and Tennant is cast. As I’ve been editing, I keep hearing Peter’s dialogue in his voice and it really must be made available for the rest of you to hear.

p.p.p.s. The use of “really” in that last sentence was an example of the stylistic adverb. It makes me sound sort of British.

timhulsizer:

Fact Checking Some Bull.  
(And in case you’re wondering, I checked the labels on the shelves: none of these are misplaced titles from some other place.)  
Harrumph.

timhulsizer:

Fact Checking Some Bull.  

(And in case you’re wondering, I checked the labels on the shelves: none of these are misplaced titles from some other place.)  

Harrumph.