Friday, May 3, 2013

Adverbs and Cliches...

 Do you get finished writing a piece and then discover you've put in every cliche and adverb that comes to mind? Why? Why do you have to get out the red pencil and whack out half the descriptive prose?

I've asked myself this question several times and today I read an article that answered it. We generally write how we speak in our head. And if it's full of those old fashioned sayings that scream cliche and adverbs galore, perhaps we should start a new trend. Instead of thinking with those -ly words, try inventing new descriptions when you sit at your favorite coffee shop, or even while you have a conversation with someone.

Of course, talking with new speech patterns might surprise your family and friends, but it will also bring new flavor to your conversations. Instead of being fantastically funny, you might find yourself saying things like: I am funny! More so than so-and-so. If you don't believe me, just listen to my new ideas about...whatever or whomever you wish to add. But don't say you're more fun than a barrel of monkeys. That's one of my favorite cliches. I had to root it out with a shovel. I think you get what I mean.

One of the best things I am doing is making a list of all the descriptive words I use in a story, and how often. If I'm repeating words, I get out the thesaurus and do a little expanding of my universe. In my latest story, I discovered I used the word froze too many times. He froze... alarmed by what he heard. I decided to try some different words to make this a stronger sentence. Petrified by what he heard, Elias couldn't move a muscle. 

I found that cliches were a little harder to replace when you want a certain meaning. But more fun than a barrel of moneys could be easily replaced with the most fun I've had since meeting last years circus clowns. It does become a little wordy at times, but the rules of the trade are exacting at times and make us think. How are you with adverbs and cliches? Have you got it down to a system? I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. I keep my Flip Dictionary right beside my computer and I still have to red pen some overused words and clichés out when I edit.

  2. Susan: I'm not sure what a Flip Dictionary is, but I keep my dictionary and my thesaurus beside my computer. It makes it easier to want to edit out those nasty beasts.