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Thread: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!


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Permlink Replies: 14 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Mar 6, 2012 12:34 PM Last Post By: djinnkitty
seechellewrite

Posts: 313
Registered: 08/11/11
A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 11:17 AM
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Adverbs and, to a lesser extent, adjectives are lazy, cliche', overdone crutches of description. I know. I've heard it many times and I mostly agree. The problem is that we all use them when we talk. Teenagers use them like they're verbal candy. I'm finding that there is a fine line between making my narrator/character's voice real and not using them. Teens are usually dramatic and they exaggerate things all the time. Dialogue is a world unto itself, where more things are viable simply because it is what it is. You don't want your characters to sound like pompous, oddball linguists who would never be lazy enough to use an unnecessary descriptor. You want them to sound human and real. I also need mine to sound young. Because I'm writing in first person, the whole story is basically dialogue, even the exposition.

So what do I DO? Seriously people, I'm, like, totally struggling here. For reals.
tracihilton

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Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 11:35 AM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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KDP is the real world, yeah? It's not the hallowed halls of Publishing According to the Rules. So long as your story is awesome and you have plenty of deep pov (fancy talk for showing and not telling) there is no reason at all not to have as many adverbs and adjectives as you want. No assistant to the acquisitions editor is sitting over your book with the red pen of death. : )

What do I mean?

How about this:

Sophia shut her locker. Garret was standing on the otherside of the door. This was her last chance to tell him before the dance. Her heart was pounding so hard it felt like it would break her ribs. She reached over to tap his shoulder with a shaking arm. ([i]THis is all deep POV and a quick example of showing the idea that "She was scared to talk to Garrett.[/i])

Today's fashion for trad publishing claims "Do this and nothing else." But why? Because it's trendy, that's why.

You are free to say:

Sophia shut her locker. Garret was standing on the other side of the door. This was her last chance to tell him before the dance. Her heart was pounding so hard it felt like it would break her ribs. She reached over to tap his shoulder with a shaking arm.

She couldn't bring herself to touch him. His football uniform stretched tight across his broad shoulders; he was the tallest, broadest, hottest guy on the team. There was no way she could touch the hottest guy she had ever seen, much less talk to him. She pulled her arm away before he could turn around. He needed to know that Candy was his cousin, but he wasn't going to find out from her.

But then he turned, and his bright blue eyes rested on her, for just a second. He smiled and gave a quick nod her direction. That was it. That was the best moment of her whole freshman year.


Hmmm...Maybe that's not the best example, not too many ly's etc. But I guess it shows what I mean, and it did help me procrastinate on my own WIP...

Traci

williamamerman

Posts: 316
Registered: 04/18/11
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 11:43 AM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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For me, dialogue is a special place where almost anything goes so long as it is in support of making the character's voice realistic. I disregard the rules of grammar. I split infinitives. I dangle participles. I butcher punctuation and spelling. I won't use dialect, though, or phonetics as an indication of dialect because I think it's too much work for the reader to translate.

I also allow myself the ever so occasional adverb in the main text, too. It's kind of like watching what I eat. I eat sensibly, but without the occasional beer and pizza night, life is just a lot more mundane that it needs to be!
ronnierayjenkins

Posts: 317
Registered: 02/21/11
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 11:51 AM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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Good luck with that.

Message was edited by: ronnierayjenkins
seechellewrite

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Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 11:57 AM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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Traci,

I think that you made a great point about it being a trend and that I don't need to be a slave to the trends. Know them, perhaps, but not bow down in abject servitude to them.

Your second example is what I'm talking about. That's how girl's think. They have all these intense emotions and opinions and they describe them. I won't demean my writing with ALL CAPS and !!!!!!!!!!'s, unless I'm quoting texts - which I've discussed before. As I'm editing (finally) I just feel like if I don't edit out all the LAZY words, someone is going to say, "Well, this author is an amateur." It's the same thing with using simple language. I mean, my characters aren't professors or anything, so obviously I can't throw out elevated language and complex sentence structure. It's clearly an EGO thing.

The bottom line, I guess, is I know the current rules for good writing, but my character doesn't necessarily have to. And she's telling the story, not me.
k-t-mitchell

Posts: 246
Registered: 04/04/11
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 12:05 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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Relax. Go for it.

End of.

Tracey Morait
Author of novels for children and young adults
http://traceymoraitnovels.blogspot.com/
tracihilton

Posts: 4,838
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Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 12:05 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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And the second example is the one that I think works perfectly well for your story. : ) We walk a fine line between learning how to improve as a writer and bowing to trends. : )

Traci
lins777

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Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 1:19 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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I've got a feeling that I'm a bad writer now. I stopped analysing and write as it happens - to me, that is - and try to live in the real world. We have the Queen's English here - renounced pronounciation - and if I wrote all of my characters in that style, well, I may as well write a lump of wood.

It's all about how it feels for your characters - right or wrong - and as the song goes,'If it feels good - do it!"
hsstours

Posts: 205
Registered: 09/27/11
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 1:21 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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If you are writing first person, Chelle, as I am, then the only rule is: there are no rules. Just be honest to the voice of your character, and let the adverbs roll!
sandykris

Posts: 37
Registered: 02/16/11
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 1:41 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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Read this and thought about The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. It's littered with everything considered wrong, yet it works. Good story, great storyteller. His character's spoke the way they spoke with no apologies.
mollysnow

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Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 3:03 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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I will use adverbs throughout 3rd person storytelling. I do what I believe sounds right and is sufficient. If we think too much about rules, it can stifle the creativity and natural voice, even of a third person narration. I first heard about "no adverbs" recently, and now while I write, I have to continually challenge that teaching. :0) I love using the word "slowly," for instance.
cheapliterature...

Posts: 701
Registered: 01/20/12
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 3:09 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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Winner of the Booker a few years ago was Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. I would go read that as a good benchmark. It balances story telling with voice perfectly from what I can remember.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vernon-God-Little-DBC-Pierre/dp/0571215165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330988904&sr=1-1
jeanetteraleigh

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Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 8:23 PM   in response to: tracihilton in response to: tracihilton
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I decided to throw out all of the advice. I still hear bits of wisdom floating in my head when I write and it totally messes me up. "Don't use was" "Show, Don't Tell" "Don't use words that end in ly" "Don't use quite" "Don't use purple prose" "No head hopping."

The most powerful thing an author can do is to write from the heart. Every time I let advice get in my head when I write, I try too hard and the story gets wooden.

Just for fun I started paying attention to the bestsellers. They sometimes tell. They use [i]ly[/i] words. They use [i]was[/i] so much I came to realize that it was okay for me to use it too. What they do better than me is use the exact word for what they mean.

During revisions, I pull out the dusty rules and see if I've broken too many of them, but lately I've just tried to be more specific. I can't wait to see how much better I am in five years...I'll probably shudder at what I write now:)

Message was edited by: jeanetteraleigh
fuzzybluetoesock

Posts: 156
Registered: 06/01/11
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 5, 2012 8:39 PM   in response to: sandykris in response to: sandykris
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I immediately thought of Catcher in the Rye too. Another YA writer who comes to mind is John Green. He breaks several of those seriously, wonderfully, fantastically rigid rules when writing dialogue and when in first person (and I think his writing is brilliant).

Two things to remember:

1. Don't get so caught up in following the rules about "ly"s, dialogue tags, and 'showing vs. telling' in first person YA that you lose your writer's voice or your character's personality.

2. Remember to keep your writing as tight as possible. Why do I say John Green is a brilliant writer when he pushes the bar sometimes with adverbs, adjectives, and over-the-top 1st person inner monologue? (Because his writing is creative and tight and his writer's voice is awesome.) If he broke the same rules and was just [i]average[/i], his writing would be junk. He can break the rules because he has proven he KNOWS the rules. It is deliberate.
djinnkitty

Posts: 3
Registered: 03/06/12
Re: A Quandary: 1st person Ya and ADVERBS!
Posted: Mar 6, 2012 12:34 PM   in response to: seechellewrite in response to: seechellewrite
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Writing is a spectrum. You have everything from the strictest technical writing to abstract poetry. The 'laws of grammar' are technically only required to pass English tests, unfortunately a lot of people have forgotten the spirit of these laws in favour of following the letter. Grammatical rules are in place to give people a common ground in written (and to a lesser extent, verbal) communication. When you're learning to write, you need a baseline, a starting point to jump off of, otherwise you'll just be vomiting out a bunch of random words with no meaning or direction.

Once you understand how language works, you're free to bend and break whatever rules you want so long as you can still reach that compromise between what feels good for you and whatever your target audience expects. For instance Tanith Lee, one of my favourite authors, obviously has an incredible grasp of the English language and how it works. Her writing is nothing short of beautiful, yet she technically breaks grammatical rules left and right.

tl,dr: Rules of grammar are a good framework to fall back on whenever you're not fully comfortable with your skill as a writer, but should not be strictly adhered to if they become a detriment to your acquired talent.
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