You’ve heard of writing prompts, now we have revision prompts! Each prompt will give you a specific writing issue to check for in your WIP, along with tips on how to fix each. Going through this process one issue at a time will not only help polish your current novel but will also teach you specific ways to improve your writing for your next story.
ADVERBS: Adverbs are one of the eight parts of speech, and they describe verbs. Obviously, they are grammatical, so what could be wrong with using them? The issue lies more with the verbs they describe than the adverbs themselves.
Adverbs can be pointers to weak, generic verbs. When the two are paired together, the adverb enables the weak verb, but what the sentence really needs is a strong verb that will encompass the meaning of both the verb and the adverb.
Generic Verb with enabling adverb: She spoke softly.
Strong, descriptive verb: She whispered.
Generic Verb with enabling adverb: He jumped high.
Strong, descriptive verb: He vaulted.
You can see that when a strong verb that better describes the action than the wimpy, generic verb, no adverb is needed because it is inferred within the meaning of the strong verb.
SEARCH FOR: Within your word processing software, do a search of your manuscript for “ly.” This will take you to most of the adverbs in your story. For each adverb, examine the it in light of the verb it describes. Does the verb/adverb combo include a generic verb? Or is there another, more descriptive verb that would show the action with one verb which is strong enough that it doesn’t need an adverb? If so, replace the two-word phrase with the strong verb. This will not only create a clearer picture in your reader’s mind but also makes for tighter writing.
One of the keys to publication is a willingness to learn. We hope our Revising Prompts will help you learn more about the craft of writing and speed you on your way to publication.