Them into Magical Writing Aids
all writers these days. We blog. We text. We may even
promote our own businesses by writing books or copy
for ads. So why not make what we do stand out. One way
to do that is to use a metaphor or simile.
may say, easier said than done. But wait! You can pick
out much maligned adverbs and turn them into metaphor
aren’t necessarily the writers’ enemies
they’ve been made out to be. Obviously they serve
a function or they would disappear from our language.
The trouble is, writers often use them as a crutch.
I like making them into magic writing aids, instead.
the Reader's Digest feature “Toward More Picturesque
Speech”? That's what we’re after and we're
trying to use great metaphors and similes to do it.
when I was speaking to the Small Publishers of North
America (SPAN), someone in the audience asked if there
was a site that would give him a list of good metaphors
to improve the imagery in his writing. I told him that
if there was, it would probably be a list of clichés
or a list of what would fast become clichés once
everyone started using them. That was before I knew
this adverb trick which works better than any list or
I would have shared this tip with him.
search for adverbs in your copy can yield metaphors
or similes, the kinds of associations that allow you
to find and insert flecks of solid gold into your work.
you’re searching for adverbs you may first determine
that they are redundant. “She ran quickly”
is an example because running, by its nature, is quick.
But you must have wanted something more or you wouldn’t
have used “quickly.” So ask yourself, “quickly
as what?” You might come up with “quickly
as a gazelle.” You’ll tell yourself, “that’s
a cliché” and try again.
the new try would include a stab at a metaphor. “She
became a blur, bicycle spokes in motion.”
this approach works beautifully. Sometimes--you may
have noticed--not. When that happens just ditch the
adverb and try strengthening the verb. My thesaurus
suggests race, dart, and gallop.
kind of edit can open doors for better imagery—help
give your reader a visual or other sensory experience.
It can also suggest possibilities for humor—something
that may be welcomed by readers of all kinds—including
those bored with the same old abbreviations and quickie,
of the advantages of editing adverbs--indeed any kind
of systematic editing --is that you'll begin to write
more concisely. Or at least more memorably. Even your
text may take on a voice of their own.
you do, the gremlins I talk about in The
Frugal Editor may spot a professional and move
to greener fields
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box,
Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will help authors
write or promote better. She will also include
a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected
books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)
multi award-winning The
Frugal Editor is now in its second
edition—as an e-book (the print edition
is coming a bit later.) It’s been
reformatted, updated and expanded.
Tip for Readers' Tip:
I mentioned that many readers—you
know, general folk—are writing more
these days. And publishing, too, as part
of their day jobs. Here's a booklet for
those who want to know more about printing
and self-publishing. Titled A Guide
To Book Printing & Self-Publishing,
it is free and frugal and especially good
if you are just beginning to accrue knowledge
about the big, difficult self-publishing
world. It’s from Gorham
nominate a book that fits within the parameters listed
in this year's Noble Back to Literature column. Explain
in 25 word or less why your nomination is a work of
literary merit and sent directly to me.
Nominations must be signed with your real name, e-mail
address and a URL if you have one. Email