Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Writing Wednesday - The Decidedly, Absolutely, Completely Un-Needed 'LY'

True or False?
That depends on who you ask. I've read articles that call the use of 'ly' adverbs everything from telling writing to down right lazy writing. I've also read articles that insist 'ly' adverbs play an important role in writing. Which do I believe? Well . . . both.

Early in my writing, I peppered my manuscript with adverbs like a  crazed chef turned loose in Spices-R-Us. Then I learned that if I used them sparingly my writing was stronger. I was forced to find more descriptive verbs; I was forced to show instead of tell.

Let's look at an example:
"I'm sure we're all sorry for your loss," she said snidely.
"I'm sure we're all sorry for your loss." Her brittle voice held as much sincerity as a used car salesman's.  

Does it take more work to leave out the 'ly'? Positively.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Hope this helps in your writing!


  1. I think ly works when it is not over used. I great metaphor or anaology does work better sometimes, but if there are too many of those I get annoyed with the author as well. My vote would be to balance it out and use both.

  2. LOL, Kasey. Well, that 2 votes for both. I agree it's the overuse that is distracting to readers. I save the 'ly' for those times when a sentence just doesn't make sense without it - and there are those times :)
    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hi Jen,

    Love your new blogs! Just wanted you to know what a great job you're doing, even thought my comments have been few. Keep them coming!