Graham Green apparently abhorred adverbs; I think they have their place if used sparingly. But I have just read a novel for the Amazon Vine programme that was so wildly over-written, peppered with superfluous adverbs and extraordinary expressions, that I gave up on it. The author is a very successful young writer, whose first novel was quite outstanding. Her second was less so ( my opinion) and this one is I think disastrous. How sad. Other reviewers seem to have felt the same. She has changed her style completely, and while I can understand her wanting to do this - after all, a change can be a good thing - I think this may be her downfall. Fortunately for her, her debut novel was so widely acclaimed that subsequent novels may well prosper on the back of its success. But it seems such a terrible shame.
To return to the adverbs, almost every verb or sentence of speech is qualified by an adverb, and ways in which people speak include huffily, wolfishly, gruffly, patiently ( it is a character called Patience who speaks patiently, which sounds even odder) and, most strange of all, pinkly. For me, good writing is unobtrusive. It conjures up an image or story without drawing attention to the words used. This kind of writing, however, is so distracting as to be almost unbearable. I had been really looking forward to reading this book, but it turned out to be a big disappointment. I think I shall give the author's next novel a miss.
Thursday, 1 March 2012
Of a successful author, adverbs and writing style
Posted by Frances Garrood at 12:40
Labels: Adverbs, literary success
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That's such a shame when her original style brought he such success. It must be hard to live up to a stunning debut. Maybe she was so nervous about comparisons that she decided to change her approach. But she's gilded the lily instead. It just shows it's best to continue with your own unique voice and not be tempted to over-embellish.ReplyDelete
You would have thought the editor would have picked up on this - methinks the author in question has not been protected enough by agent or publisher in their race to wring money from the pages. Like Joanna, this is a shame as it will hurt her career... badly, mawkishly, and pinkly.ReplyDelete
Joanna you're right. If it not only ain't broke, but is brilliant ( which her first book was) then why fix/ change it?ReplyDelete
Oops, Frances, a quick heads up...misplaced apostrophe near the end of your first paragraph. "on the back of its success" not "it's".ReplyDelete
Do you think this author is trying to be funny, with Patience speaking patiently? Having people speak pinkly might mean their mouths are wide open? Obviously, whatever she was aiming at, she failed. Too bad.
Matt, I think her debut was so successful that they must really believe that anything she writes goes. In the present climate, this seems rather risky, as we know only too well!ReplyDelete
Kay, I blush! But this (new to me) iPad keeps editing what I write and I don't always check properly. And me a pedant, too...ReplyDelete
And no. I don't think the author was trying to be funny. I think she was emulating P G Woodhouse.
I'm with you on adverbs and writing that intrudes into the story...ReplyDelete
What a shame the author has gone backwards. I only notice adverbs when they are used too frequently!ReplyDelete
Rosemay, I think you're right. Adverbs should add meaning without drawing attention to themselves.
That's very unfortunately for her. I too wonder why the editor didn't pay close attention to those details.ReplyDelete
Stephen King . . no mean writer in his genre said "The road to Hell is paved with adverbs"ReplyDelete