View Full Version : The First Five Pages - Chapter Two - Adj/Adverbs (Discussion)

Rolling Thunder
12-03-2007, 07:34 PM
Adjectives. Adverbs.

Love them or hate them, they have a place in writing. Just not as often as some think. The advice in Chapter Two is sound, but we’ve all seen this advice ignored, and watched those books become bestsellers.

It’s a tough call, especially since I write MG/YA. It’s true I don’t want to write down to my potential reader, but the vocabulary of a typical 8-12 year old isn’t as well rounded as, say, a twenty year old. This is the fact at hand and I feel I need to use adverbs and adjectives in this genre. That doesn’t mean I’m going down the string-a-list-of-modifiers route either. I have other WIPs outside MG where I can put strong verb/noun usage to work and if I find a particular instance that does the job that makes my MG work better, I’ll use it.

Otherwise, I'll use whatever tools I need to paint a picture my reader can grasp.

12-03-2007, 08:02 PM
I think like everything else, these are all tools. The reason why someone would say "don't do this or that" is that many people misuse or overuse these tools. They don't really understand how to use the tools and use them well. Using redundant, vague adjectives, or overuse of adverbs that don't put a picture in the readers' minds, for example. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of those tools; they are there for a reason.

As far as 8-12 are concerned, I think it comes down to word choices, really, and how vivid your story telling is. Many people defend the use of "adverbs," for example, by saying children don't have the mental capacity to interpret abstract concepts, yada yada. To me, it just means the author should work extra hard to bring the right pictures in the kid's mind. What matters more is whether you have successfully told a story to your readers and kept them in that world. Adverbs work for this age group is that it's simple, and they can gloss over those words and supply their own imageries. "He said angrily" most likely will conjure some stereotypical actions in their minds: "He growled, stomped his feet, and huffed." So why not just say "he growled, stomped his feet, and huffed"? ;) I'm sure an 8yo knows all those words.

12-03-2007, 09:45 PM
I'm with Maestro on this one.

I often get adults asking me why I use such an a-typical vocabulary (as in, I suppose, more verbose) in my writing for 8 - 12 yearolds. I never get the question from kids. They seem to enjoy the stories just fine.

12-05-2007, 10:33 AM
I'm with them.

In a larger sense, you would be educating your reader. One of the first advices is to read, read, read, if you want to write. But it doesn't help if you read bad writing.

And think about the potential growth for your readership. If you create a story that is strong and capable without the "dumbing down" adverbs, imagine how powerful that could be to an 8-12 year old who has had to supply all his or her own images to other stories. You will have created a world for them to get lost in, rather than a world they created.