It was a dark and stormy night, or was it a wild and windy night? Or perhaps it was just night...
A recent event got me thinking about various anomalies such as adverbs, verbs, nouns, subjunctives and the like and what, in actual fact, are they?
Do readers (and I mean readers, not authors who read - in my mind these are two very different categories of people) actually care if writing is full of them or not?
At this juncture, I must make a confession. While I can spell, and my grammar is relatively okay, it is all pretty inate. By that I mean, it's built in. I can structure a sentence but apart from the 'noun' I couldn't tell you wish was the verb, adverb or whatever. I just know what sounds right and what doesn't.
But why are authors so obsessed with these things? Is it a prerequisite of garnering an elusive publishing contract?
Which made me pose the question, do readers actually give a crap or do they just want to be taken on a journey and enjoy the trip? Do they count how many adverbs the author uses? Or count how many times you use the word just? Before I became a writer, I know I certain didn't give a rats backside.
After a recent reading, it was made apparent to me that my writing is somewhat adverb heavy. Adverbs, for those that like me who needed to Google it, are those cheeky little monkeys that tell us when or how or in what manner something was done.
While they seem to be considered the devil by a large component of the authoring community, in my mind, these descriptive little words are what gives the reader a sense of emotion, place, time.
How do you inject more emotion, more feeling into characters without them?
I'll give you some examples of what I mean...
"I silently stared..." If this was changed to 'I stared', would readers assume that it was done silently? One could gasp while staring, scream while staring, talk while staring, mumble while staring. I would not instantly assume that if one stared, it would be done silently.
"My stomach grumbled viciously..." Again, would it be assumed that a stomach would grumble viciously? It is my belief that stomachs may grumble low, perhaps quietly, I don't know. But to indicate the severity of the hunger, I have stated that it grumbled viciously.
As a new writer, I am still learning about the 'craft' of writing and I fear I may fall into the trap of counting adverbs or the number of times I use the word just, then, and or actually, instead of focusing on whether I've written an engaging, memorable image for readers.
But like Goldilock's proverbial porridge, how do you know what is too much, what is not enough, and what is just right? I fear I may never know!