Category: adverbs

Bad Writing Tips That Make Me Crazy…

When I see profoundly bad writing tips that make me crazy, I get this feeling deep down that won’t go away unless I post something about it. This could be a joke, but you never know these days. I hate to see new writers get bad advice from those who think they know it all. At least the bad writing tips have to be profound to make me crazy, not just small things. And, this is why I rarely offer writing advice, not even in jest. With over 100 published works on, I have yet to find a clear definition of what’s considered great writing because that’s just too subjective.

In this case, I saw this gem below on this publishing blog and I couldn’t help thinking about all the writers that might get confused by this kind of advice. You have to remember that what works for one writer won’t work for another. It is all subjective and whenever you see someone offer writing tips like this, take it about as seriously as you take the alleged facts in Presidential debates.

Let’s start with #1:

I’m thrilled this author always has a plan. But that’s not how it works for all writers and this should not be taken seriously. I rarely have a set plan…even when the publisher asks for an outline I tend to deviate because my characters decide how the books end, not me. I sit down and start writing.


I rarely decide the endings of my books. My characters do that. My characters guide me. So while I know that when I’m writing a romance it will end happily, I’m not exactly certain where…or how…the book will end. And I like that. I like being kept in suspense while I’m writing the book. And if I’m not, I start to wonder if readers will be. So take this one with a HUGE proverbial grain of salt.


I’m just going to refer this one to other books I’ve read recently. I see the words was, got, and put, in books that have been written by Pulitzer prize winning authors all the time and there’s nothing wrong with using them. Like all words, they shouldn’t be overused. But if you do use them no one is going to fault you for it. In fact, most readers use those words themselves and won’t even notice. But more important, during copyedits words like this are almost always removed anyway if they are overused.


This blows me away whenever I see it. Truly proven authors like John Irving use adverbs all the time and there’s nothing wrong with them unless they are, once again, overused. But then nothing should be overused. There’s this bigotry against ALL adverbs these days that passes me by and I don’t think readers care all that much about it.


I don’t even get this one. So I’m not going to comment. But I’m certainly not going to pay attention to it either.

I would like to say this author and blogger were joking around, but I’m not certain. I think it could be a joke because the blogger used the word “got” in the post. If it is in jest, I think it’s hysterical. But for those who might take something like this seriously, always remember that advice like this is subjective and it should NOT be taken too seriously. This is the kind of advice that can screw up an author for years until the author finally reaches that seasoned point where he or she sees how subjective writing is. As far as I know, no one has ever written a set standard for what’s considered good writing. If they do, I’ll be the first to read it.

Dialogue Tags With Adverbs: No-No

I see bad dialogue tags all the time in excerpts of published books and I cringe. It really is the perfect example of how readers can tell by the first five pages whether or not they want to buy and read a book. It’s been said, not be me, that it’s not possible to describe great writing…but it’s very simple to spot amateur writing.

I’ve talked about said bookisms here on the blog before. Though I can’t find the link, I’ve talked about how confusing it can be to readers when there are no dialogue tags at all.

And now I’m referring you to a blog post written by a published author, Nathan Bransford, who makes the point so well about adverbs in dialogue tags I’m not going to bother adding anything but the example below…taken verbatim from his blog so he gets full and absolute credit…and a link the entire post. I’ve read his book and I know he knows what he’s talking about.

Sometimes adverbs can’t be avoided…although I’ve been known to write entire novels without them at all. In my last edit for, FOUR GAY WEDDINGS, which will be released soon, the editor added the word “knowingly” and it’s still bothering me. I let her get away with it this time because it wasn’t part of a dialogue tag and I was having a great day. But, for some reason, I don’t think there is anything that gets me more than “ingly” words. I absoultely despise them. And since it’s been bothering me so much I will not let this happen again.

Anyway, below is a satirical example of dialogue tags and adverbs by Mr. Bransford, in bold print. For those doing NaNoWriMo right now, you might want to take advantage of his entire post.

Adverb Central:
“What do you mean I can’t use adverbs with dialogue tags?” Lucia asked questioningly.
“Just don’t do it,” Nathan replied testily.
“But why not?” Lucia asked quizzically.
“It’s kind of a rule,” Nathan said resignedly.
“I kind of like them,” Lucia said poutingly.
“If you keep using adverbs,” Nathan said patiently, “Pretty soon your reader will only notice the adverbs and not the dialogue because the adverbs are doing all the work for the reader.”
“Oh,” Lucia said understandingly.
“Yeah,” Nathan nodded knowingly.