May 25, 2017, 11:36:30 AM

Author Topic: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?  (Read 2453 times)

Offline donalddallan

-ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« on: July 02, 2015, 04:07:45 PM »
Quick question folks. I have used word macros to locate and highlight needless words and -ly words (you know: those nasty adverbs that destroy sentences).  Examples here: http://blog.karenwoodward.org/2012/10/check-your-writing-for-adverbs-and.html

So here is the question: Do you have alternative macro sources or programs that do this better, worse, same? If so, can you share your sources, please?

Cheers,

Don

Edit: I know about the Hemingway app and there is already a forum post specific to that so please avoid talking about that app please. Really this is about macros for Word and similar solutions. 
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Offline asabo

Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2015, 07:18:09 PM »
Personally, I wouldn't use a program to edit my writing. It may seem like a quick and easy solution to a bad habit, but I've found that it should be taken on a case by case basis. Using a program won't get you to break the habit, or improve your vocabulary.

I write the bones of a story first and don't worry about the word choice or grammar. Once I have that done I go back and clean it up. Not all -ly words are bad. So you have to train your brain to change the sloppy construction like - he walked slowly - maybe he paced or stalked or tip-toed. Sometimes an adverb is the correct word.

Sadly, there are no quick fixes.
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Offline donalddallan

Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2015, 09:22:13 PM »
Thanks Asabo.


I don't use the macro to edit my work - it merely highlights known areas that should be looked at closer. Such as needless words (like the word 'that').  Adverbs use for me means that I am telling and not showing.


It's an aid, not a replacement for my own common sense.


Cheers!


Don
Author of Duilleog, Vol.1, A New Druids Series - http://buff.ly/1KnQi3p

Offline Nora

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2015, 12:54:13 PM »
I never completely understood that idea...

Why is an adverb telling and not showing? What's the difference between "he walked slowly" and "he strolled"?
One is more to the point, more rich and educated, but both make up a picture in my mind of a person walking at a slow pace...

I can take that an abuse of adverbs is bad, but what's with the witch hunt around them? I often find that being "told" stuff happens in a way broader sense than in the down-to-the-adverb sense. Sometimes writers spend entire paragraphs or pages telling things and having no actions whatsoever, and aren't saved from my boredom by a writing clean of adverbs.

Can someone show me some really good examples to illustrate the problem? Maybe it's my being french that infers with my full understanding.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2015, 01:03:53 PM »
I never completely understood that idea...

Why is an adverb telling and not showing? What's the difference between "he walked slowly" and "he strolled"?
One is more to the point, more rich and educated, but both make up a picture in my mind of a person walking at a slow pace...

I can take that an abuse of adverbs is bad, but what's with the witch hunt around them? I often find that being "told" stuff happens in a way broader sense than in the down-to-the-adverb sense. Sometimes writers spend entire paragraphs or pages telling things and having no actions whatsoever, and aren't saved from my boredom by a writing clean of adverbs.

Can someone show me some really good examples to illustrate the problem? Maybe it's my being french that infers with my full understanding.
I think it's just an immediacy thing.

When you say "walked slowly", there's a split second between reading "walked" and reading "slowly", and the reader's mental image of the action has to change mid-stride. The word "strolled" encapsulates the action you're trying to portray, so the mental image is clearer and more immediate.

It's really just a small difference in clarity that can add up to a huge one over time imo.
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2015, 01:06:43 PM »
I'm with Nora - I prefer the adverbs...
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Offline Nora

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2015, 02:47:50 PM »
Mmmmh... Maybe I just don't read the same kind of books, I don't know?

In french, to say that "il avança lentement, décrivant de longs cercles autour de sa proie" - he advanced slowly, making long circles around his prey - has absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's a choice of word, over another more accurate maybe, but isn't the author free of doing what he wants?

Of course abusing adverbs is bad, but I think making rules against them is sort of silly... What if I want to create drag specifically in this instance?
And is everything always better without a -ly?
Like, in between "he painstakingly carved it in this hardwood" - "he carved it with great pain in this hardwood" Which do you pick? Because as far as I know there is no word to describe carving done in a painful and difficult manner. Or if there is, it's probably too unknown to be used.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2015, 03:01:48 PM »
I was explaining it, not saying that I agree with it! It's appropriate advice to people who rely on them too much, but I think people take it too far. Adverbs can be really useful, and that slight delay in processing the action can actually help convey what's going on - someone advancing slowly being the perfect example. A word like "crept" would be more concise, but "advanced slowly" could be more effective because the extra word (and syllables) emphasises the pace.
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Offline Nora

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2015, 03:18:17 PM »
Sorry I was just forcibly asking for more examples (see what I did there?) not really countering your point.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline CameronJohnston

Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2015, 03:32:35 PM »
I agree with Raptori about things like advancing slowly, as it implies a cautious advance. Perfectly useful.

Take this quick example:

Gurt slowly walked over to the desk. "You owe me," he said angrily.
The banker carefully swept  his coin into the drawer, quickly locking it. "I have no idea what you mean," he said shakily.
Gurt hit his fist forcefully off the desk. "Oh yes you do," he said loudly.

See, the way I see it, Gurt's lines are flavourless crap mostly due to overuse of -ly words. The 2nd line works just fine for me though, as carefully and quickly both add connotations to his actions, so it depends how they are used, or not over-used as the case may be.
"He said angrily" is just poor - is he blazing mad, or is he cold and clipped and deathly angry, is he growling threateningly, shouting it, spitting the words into his face... Angrily shows us none of that, just tells us he is angry.

This is much better:

Gurt strode to the desk. "You owe me," he growled. 
The banker carefully swept  his coin into the drawer, quickly locking it. "I have no idea what you mean," he said shakily.
Gurt's fist pounded the desk. "Oh yes you do," he hissed.

(but personally I'd remove 'he growled' and 'he hissed' too)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 03:45:55 PM by CameronJohnston »
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2015, 04:07:40 PM »
he advanced slowly, making long circles around his prey

he painstakingly carved it in this hardwood

Both are perfectly decent uses of -ly words. They show you something is done is a very particular way. Slowly implies a cautious advance, and painstakingly implies a long, grueling process of carving it in. Sometimes there are no better, more concise words for what you want to convey. Or it might just sound better.

Things like, "he walked slowly along the trail" may be fine, or more concise words might be preferable. He ambled tells us the character walks slowly but shows us the character is also relaxed and sightseeing almost, and in less words too.
'He moved quickly to grab' - if we replace with 'he leapt for', 'he dived for', 'he darted for' and it shows us HOW he moves quickly, not just tells us he moved quickly.
 
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2015, 06:30:11 PM »
Quote
When you say "walked slowly", there's a split second between reading "walked" and reading "slowly", and the reader's mental image of the action has to change mid-stride. The word "strolled" encapsulates the action you're trying to portray, so the mental image is clearer and more immediate.

I think Raptori said this best. -ly words aren't terrible, but there's often better ways to write it. And you get a better visual image for your reader.

Also, consider giving us descriptions of how people are talking/acting as well, rather than an adverb. Sometimes you get more mileage out of showing us what a character is doing, rather than telling us how they feel.

Instead of writing "I don't know what you mean," he said nervously, write instead His voice trembled. "I don't know what you mean."

Instead of writing "Can you help me or not?" he said impatiently write instead He huffed. "Can you help me or not?"

Instead of writing "I'm going to kill you!" she said angrily write instead Her hands curled into fists. "I'm going to kill you!"
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Offline jefGoelz

Re: -ly and Needless Word: Word Macros. Experience?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2015, 02:08:10 AM »
any word processor can search for -ly words or whatever else you want to look out for.

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