Don’t overuse adverbs. I’ve read this advice quite often, but have never had any real desire to follow it. I love adverbs. They are lovely little candy sprinkles of words. I like to throw them around liberally. So I did. All over our manuscript. So there.
Now I am engaged in the painful removal of adverbs, adjectives and other fabulously descriptive but sadly overused words. And it hurts me more than it hurts them. Hunting down the overkill is a monster job. These words include, but are not limited to: just, detritus, cocoon, so, well, and ‘a lot’. (Far better than the imaginary ‘alot,’ but still not good in ridiculous proportions.)
To be fair, the Lisas suffer from diagramitis. It is an embarrassing yet common condition affecting people from all walks of life, including the highly educated. Diagramitis is the inability, in whole or in part, to diagram a sentence. TOL (The Other Lisa) suffers from a particularly virulent form called diagramitis ignoramus, which in layman’s terms simply means she has forgotten everything she ever learned, including if she learned it in the first place. The condition is related to Alzheimer’s with sharp overtones of sarcasm and a hint of smoky cheddar.
I would likely be diagnosed as having digramitis phlegmaticus, from the Greek meaning, “doesn’t give a tinker’s damn.” I could diagram a sentence if need be, but what’s the point? Isn’t the objective of writing to string together words and create a train of thought, rather than take them apart like Tinker Toy pieces that inevitably go lost under beds or down cold air return vents?
The Lisas grew up on Schoolhouse Rock. We learned the function of Conjunction Junction and we honed our eyeteeth on Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla. But what we really learned was you can put the ABC’s of Comatosity to music and kids will memorize it. Which is why we’ve decided to skip the print version of our novel altogether and go with the off-off Broadway rendition of Will Steal for Shoes: the Musical. Nothing much will change except instead of lusting after Christian Louboutins and Manolo Blahniks, Mary will be fondling footwear of the tap shoe and ballet slipper variety while crooning, “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your candy here, it’s almost Halloween and I got lollypops here.” A smash hit for all ages.