The Adverb: Bastard Child of the English Language?

Since when did the adverb become so demonized in the writing world?  Even the grand master pooh bah , Stephen King, has written an article on why we should not use them.  And I understand that in a lot of of instances, his advice is right on and makes for tighter, cleaner writing.

However, before we completely disregard the poor adverb, we should realize that there are times when nothing but an adverb will do.  Take for example, the sentence, “He spoke softly.”  One would argue that, “He whispered.” is a stronger and more concise way of stating the same thing.  However, what if whoever this theoretical person was trying to whisper to was across the room instead of right beside him.  Then he might have to “whisper loudly” in order for the person to hear him.

In his article, King uses the sentence “He closed the door firmly.” and argues that the same idea can be accurately conveyed with the more precise sentence, “He slammed the door.”  However anybody who has ever lived with a butt load of kids in a house with a no slamming rule knows that there really is a difference between slamming a door and closing it firmly.  Slamming a door will get your xbox privileges revoked, whereas closing it firmly will simply get you a warning that you are walking a thin line.  You can’t always tell from context.  My kids can be straight up ticked off, but they will not slam that door.  Not if they want to live.  They will want to, but they won’t do it.

So, basically, what my aimless rambling comes down to is this:  Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Sure you can go overboard with adverbs (and honestly I feel the same way about adjectives as well), but we don’t have to completely banish them to writer’s exile on the basis that they are always redundant.  Sometimes an adverb is just the thing to convey exactly what is going on in your story.

Rediscovering my inspiration.

The poor adverb isn’t all bad.

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Starting Over

Over the last five months, I have found myself focusing more on short stories and have put my book on the back shelve so to speak, only writing on it intermittently when I had a little time between my other WIPs.  Unfortunately, now that I want to go back and focus on it, I find that I have, in a way, disconnected from that story.  I feel removed from the characters that were once as familiar to me as old friends and have a hard time remembering the timeline that the story has followed so far.  Is it currently Sunday or Monday?  I can’t remember.

So I have decided to edit the book even though I am only about a third of the way through the actual plot as a way to reconnect with my story and characters.  This is contrary to the advice I have received from most writers, which is “Write, write, write.  Edit when you’re done”.  This advice has word exceedingly well for me and got me up to approximately 30,000 words.  But in straying from the tried and true, and by going back and starting from the beginning, I have rediscovered why I started writing in the first place.  This was the story that was banging around in my brain begging to be written.  It has been freeing and it refreshed my need to write instead of my obligation to write in order to meet someone else’s deadline or my own word count goals.

Therefore, I am now throwing word counts out the window until I work through this and rediscover the joy that I used to derive from putting my story on paper.  Or screen.  You know, whatever.  And I think I will share more snippets from my novel on my blog, probably once a week, in order to work on that tougher skin.

I am wondering though, all of you who have eleventy billion WIPs going at once….how do you keep them all straight in your mind?  I don’t know how you do it.  Kudos!

Rediscovering my inspiration.

Rediscovering my inspiration.

Slightly Delusional? Maybe more.

I’ll never know if King, Koontz or Patterson ever actually sat down one day and wondered what the hell they were doing before they made it big, but I know that I do it on a fairly regular basis.  Why do I continue this activity that more often irritates me to no end and so often ends in rejection and heartbreak?  I look at my own writing sometimes and think that I am more than slightly delusional to think that I can do this regardless of what I’ve been told by professors and other writers.

And I’m not talking about even being published.  I just want to finish my damned novel before I die and cross that off of the old bucket list.  The prospect doesn’t look that promising at the moment actually.  Summer vacation is looming near and that will mean kids all over the house twenty-four seven for the next three months.  I have failed to meet my weekly goal every week since I set it.  Now I’m just thinking I’ll set a goal for the number of weeks to not reach a goal just so I can achieve one of my goals. Wait. What? Did that even make sense?  Do you see what I’m working with here?!

Do you have those moments when you just think you are banging your head against a wall and going nowhere?  Where do you come up with the motivation to keep chugging along during those times?

Muse or Inspiration?

Whatever you call it….it is elusive and fleeting.  Maddeningly so, even.  It can’t be forced, at least I can’t force it, though I know a few writers (and you know who you are) that seem to never, ever run dry of ideas.  Makes me want to punch them in the throat, if we are being completely honest.

And once it does strike, you better hope you are close to a pen, a crayon, a tube of lipstick, anything.  Because I’ve had more than a couple of incidents where by the time I located a writing implement to get it down, the idea was long gone.  Now I don’t know if that’s normal, or if I am particularly absent-minded because I have seven kids.  That’s just how it works for me.

Inspiration, for me, usually comes from something around me.  A scene that  witnessed while grocery shopping gave me the idea for a young adult short story.  A documentary about a series of particularly brutal crimes and how the man charged with the crime had been playing the justice system for years, was the impetus for my vengeful vampire story.  Occasionally, I do just get something from thin air.  It has happened more than once, but isn’t how I commonly come up with ideas.

So where do you get your ideas from?  The people and places around you?  Dreams?  The voices in your head?

I wish I just had a Muse.  Seems like it would be so much simpler.

muse1

Wanted:  One Muse

Opening a Vein? Not So Much.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the writing process lately.  Mainly because I feel like my brain is mush and writing a coherent sentence seem barely within my grasp recently.  Some say that writing is like opening a vein and bleeding onto the page for all the world to see.

I think that is more than a little dramatic.  I also think writing is harder than that.  I would liken it to trying to get blood from a stone.  Or birth a nine pound baby.  Now that stuff is hard. Opening a vein would be relatively easy compared to those things.  Blood exists.  It is right there flowing under the thin surface of your skin, easily accessible.  Writing consists of constructing something from nothing which I believe may be one of the hardest things that I’ve ever attempted.  (Apart from that nine pound baby.  Maybe.)

How people sit at a computer for hours, pounding out thousands of words in a day…well, I am jealous and confounded.  I struggle mightily to get even my paltry 1,000 words per day out and have yet to reach my goal of 7,000 words in a week.  I’m a little discouraged because what if I just really, really suck and haven’t figured it out yet?  Until now.

Don’t answer that.  I don’t want to know.  Maybe.  Definitely.

Queen of Denial? Maybe.

Queen of Denial? Maybe.

You’re on a Nice Run and Then Life Happens

So, I was cruising along this week, more than on target to hit my goal of 7,000 words for the week despite the fact that I had three children with the stomach flu on Tuesday.  I won’t go into details because even being a horror writer, I find it too gruesome to put into words.  It wasn’t pretty.  Let’s just leave it at that.  But, I was +500 words by the end of Tuesday and finished my blog post by 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday.  I figured this week was going to be cake.  Right?

Wrong.

When will I ever learn?

About 10:00 a.m. I got the worst case of stomach flu that I have ever had in my life.  I wasn’t actually dying (obviously because here I am boring you to death yet again), but there were times I wished I would die because then the torture would be over.  I lived in the bathroom and cried a lot because I was too sick to sleep. That lasted until approximately ten o’clock this morning.

And there went my positive word count.  Now I’m in the whole by -250, if I get my thousand done today, that is.

So, I guess the moral of this story is don’t count you’re cake until you eat it.  But wait until after the stomach flu.  Ew.

Hop Hop!

gElmerMunson

Happy May everyone!  So the very cool Lisa Woods tagged me for a blog hop last week, and here I am…about as prepared as…well, what’s the opposite of a Boy Scout?  That’s how prepared I am.  I actually really like doing blog hop-type things, but this weekend was solely dedicated to finishing Camp Hollybrook (done, done, and submitted, thank you very much), and this week has seen some fairly significant issues at the day job that have sucked just about all the time and life out of me.

Enough whining, right?  On with the questions!

What are you working on right now?

Well, I have more things “in process” than I should admit (but I will…it’s somewhere around 30ish).  In the interest of brevity, I’ll stick to my next long work.  I have the first draft of a submarine novel that I’m excited to get back to.  It’s a horror…

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Making Noise in the Backseat

A new audiobook available from Tim Baker!

blindoggbooks

In April, 2004 my brother-in-law and I drove from Rhode Island to Florida in a 22 hour non-stop marathon. In order to save us the trouble of thinking of stuff to talk about, we stopped at Cracker Barrel in RI and grabbed a couple of audio books to listen to. We made sure they were action-filled spy stories, hoping they’d keep us awake.

It worked…we stayed awake, listened to 2 good books and returned them to the Cracker Barrel in Florida when we arrived.

Prior to that, my only other experience with audio books was during high school English class when we had to read Shakespeare.

Our teacher was a young woman who, I believe, could still identify with our difficulty in understanding old-timey English. She mercifully allowed us to listen to a recorded version of the story (Romeo and Juliet) which made it much easier for us.

Believe it…

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“Dying Days 3” First Draft Is Done!

Armand Rosamillia talks about the future of his ever popular Dying Days series and he just happens to mention yours truly, as well.

ARMAND ROSAMILIA

I finished what I believe is a damn good first draft of Dying Days 3, my zombie novella. The first two parts of the story clocked in at about 25,000 words each, but my goal on this one was to get more story and make it about 35,000 words. The final first draft ended up being over 40,000, which I am quite happy with. 

There will also be a companion short story like in the other Dying Days releases, with a return of Tosha Shorb and her sister, and I might add in another short piece or two. My goal is to get the final product over 50,000 words and be a nice solid release. More bang for your buck, as they say. I think someone says that, anyway. 

Then readers (you are out there!) of the series will be happy to know I can finish up Dying Days:…

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To Set Goals, or To Not Set Goals?

That is the question of the day.

Personally, I have been hesitant to set daily goals for myself simply because with seven kids and a newborn grandson under one roof, I never really know what the day will hold.  I could be totally open all day, besides the usually chores of cooking, laundry, etc.  Or I may be busy with dentist appointments, grocery store trips (which always turn out to be all day excursions) and the unexpected trips to pick up sick kids.  As I was writing this, I was interrupted to hold the baby while his mother attended to some personal chores.  Couldn’t have predicted that, but that’s the way life with kids goes.

However, someone recently pointed out that it possible for me to set weekly goals.  That would allow me some flexibility to make up what I couldn’t do one day over the course of a week.  So I am, very tentatively, going to set a goal of 7,000 a week.  That is, of course, 1,000 words a day, including weekends.  At first, I has hesitant to add anything on the weekends, but then I figured I could at least get in two 500 word sessions, or four 250 word session on Saturday and Sunday.  Surely, I can type that much around the kids for two days.

Okay, maybe more hopeful than sure about that last one.

I am posting this in order to hold myself publicly accountable.  And to subject myself to public humiliation if I fail.  Which is possible.  Or likely.  Whatever.

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How one woman tackles the blank page.

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