Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 560, Adverbs Words Best Not Employed Q and A

15 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 560, Adverbs Words Best Not Employed Q and A

Announcement:  Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy.  You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com.  Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness.  I’ll keep you updated.

Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.

I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:

1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.

All novels have five discrete parts:
1.  The initial scene (the beginning)
2.  The rising action
3.  The climax
4.  The falling action
5.  The dénouement

The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

Here is the cover proposal for Escape from FreedomEscape is my 25th novel.

 Escape Cover proposal sm
Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I’m on my first editing run-through of Shape.

I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.

Scene development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. Release (climax of creative elements)

I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:

  1. History extrapolation
  2. Technological extrapolation
  3. Intellectual extrapolation

Creativity is like an extrapolation of what has been.  It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect).  Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.

One of my blog readers posed these questions.  I’ll use the next few weeks to answer them.

  1. Conflict/tension between characters
  2. Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
  3. Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
  4. Evolving vs static character
  5. Language and style
  6. Verbal, gesture, action
  7. Words employed
  8. Sentence length
  9. Complexity
  10. Type of grammar
  11. Diction
  12. Field of reference or allusion
  13. Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
  14. Mannerism suggest by speech
  15. Style
  16. Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter’s style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov’s includes ‘apparent’ inconclusiveness).

Moving on to 7. 7.  Words employed

The list is gone. I’d would be nice to keep it up and add to it as I thought of more classics. I want to give you more ideas about the employment of words or the right word for the moment, but I’m going to come from a different point of view for a moment. Let’s look at words not to use. Here’s the list:











These are words you want to reduce in your writing.  Let’s look at adverbs.


Don’t tell us how someone feels especially by adding adverbial descriptions of speech. Instead show us how they feel.

“I don’t like cats,” he said disgustedly. (not good)

“I don’t like cats,” he said with disgust. (a little better)

“I don’t like cats,” he gagged. (very good)

This is a very short explanation from my writing secrets. It doesn’t fully explain the depth of the use of adverbs. Here is the full of it—and perhaps it is full of it. You might have heard, never use adverbs. Or you might have heard, professional or good writers don’t use adverbs. This very foolish advice began with an article from Mark Twain on writing. In the article Mark Twain suggests that adverbs are not a good part of fiction. I think Mr. Twain was using his usual style of humor to be sarcastic. Adverbs are an important and useful part of speech.

The first rule of adverbs is this: don’t normally use an adverb where a verb will do. For example:

She spoke quietly. (The verb is spoke and the adverb is quietly) Instead write:

She whispered.

In this case, the verb is very obvious and whispered fits perfectly. On the other hand, there might actually be a case where whispered is not the proper verb and spoke quietly is the only choice; however, I suspect for most writing, whispered is the proper choice. Here is another example:

He walked quickly. (The verb is walked and the adverb is quickly). Instead write:

He ran.

He jogged.

He trotted.

He sprinted.

He made a quick walk. (perhaps too verbose)

If your characters really did make a quick walk and not a jog, run, trot, or sprint, you will perhaps want to write: He walked quickly. However, I will tell you, the current flow of writing is to reduce adverbs at the expense of understanding and communication. In this case, just compromise.

There are many adverbial constructions that can’t be replaced with a verb. For example:

She baked carefully. You can replace this with:

She baked with care.

The problem is the availability of verbs in English—you only have so many. For simple verbs, always replace adverbial constructions when you can. On the other hand, I don’t have a problem with adverbs, but I use them with caution because I know where the wind blows on this issue. I don’t purge my writing of adverbs, but I only use them when I must. For now, I think this is a good practice.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:



About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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