Also, Why Do I Get So Wordy?
While undertaking a massive project rewriting my old academic papers, I discovered my love of adverbs has not faltered through the years. Without a doubt, I’m a far better writer a decade on after writing many of these pieces I’ve been working on. To assist my rewriting work, I’ve been using the wonderful Hemingway App to help trim down some run on sentences and rather wordy cluster-ducks. While doing that, I’m discovering that I truly still love adverbs as much now as I ever did.
It’s a known fact by those who read my work before I edit it that I tend to be rather verbose and dense in my initial wordings of things. Readability is rarely my focus when I’m trying to get my ideas down. Really, it shouldn’t be the focus of any writer when undertaking a first draft. Yet, I always feel I must overload every sentence with every possible word I could use. Sometimes, I find myself repeating the same idea but worded differently because I wasn’t sure I got it across correctly the first time. Having to use an app to trim things down into a more accessible state sometimes seems unfortunately necessary for my continued ability to publish things that people actually want to read!
During this process, I realized I needed to start splitting up my sentences more often. Apparently, it’s OK to have only a single idea expressed before a period. In my first drafts, I often have three or four ideas, while related, packed into a long train broken up only by the occasional comma.
One place where my writing has evolved for the better is the use, or lack thereof, of passive voice. Today, I certainly use far less passive voice than I once did. I think it was a result of writing too much about history and about the past in general. This is why in history classes, they teach you to write “living history,” right? Aren’t you supposed to write about it in the present tense? Well, I guess I didn’t get the memo for awhile.
Still, I don’t get why I supposedly use adverbs too much. What gives? I like to just give my sentences an extra kick at the end. I don’t use them excessively purely to load “weak” verbs with extra undeserved kick. I use them because I like them. Perhaps it’s the suffix -ly that draws me to them. Really, I just like using them. If you want me to sue me in the court of Proper Grammar Usage or whatever, go right ahead. I will happily contest your mistrust of my fondness for excessive adverb usage!
Oddly, according to the Hemingway App, I’ve written this bit at a 6th grade reading level! This is at the perfect readability level to share on the web! Right on!
Still, I used a whopping 17 adverbs when I should have only used three or fewer in a piece of this length… Bummer!