1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Can you stop an adverb in its tracks?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by peachalulu, Apr 28, 2015.

    I have a sentence that goes - "I can't go up," he begins soft, but his tone hardens as he turns away and clenches his fist. "I won't go up."
    I could even switch the wording - He begins soft. "I can't go up." But his tone hardens as he turns away and clenches his fist. "I won't go up."
    The trouble I'm having is with that word soft - unusually it's supposed to be an adverb - softly but soft came out and it's kinda stuck. Should I turn it to softly? Use the second wording or just leave it?
    Anyone know what this rule is about turning adverbs into nouns?
     
  2. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    You could try something along the lines of.

    "I can't go up," he begins, his voice soft...

    perhaps?
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I agree with the above post, change the wording. Otherwise 'soft' doesn't work in, "He begins soft." It sounds like poor grammar.
     
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  4. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed. Also, it's 'its' in the title of the thread. Just sayin'.
     
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  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes.
     
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Doh! Not those its/it's again! :dry:
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have no problem with "He begins soft" - it does stand out, but I take it as poetic license somehow. I often write similarly myself and my co-author really hated it - she kept calling it grammatically incorrect and insisted I changed every instance. It does happen that there's almost always another way of writing it that sounds equally good, so I always changed it for her sake. But for me, it was compromising my writing style a little - not by much, which is why I went along with it, but it is a compromise.

    Personally I like the first instance, where "He begins soft" is one sentence with the rest of it.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends on your voice for the piece. If you're using a colloquial tone and lots of non-standard grammar, then this is probably okay - the meaning comes through clearly enough. But if you're following grammar rules everywhere else, I think you should follow them here, too.
     
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  9. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    He begins soft...but then he took a Viagra.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think this kind of decision depends a lot on the context of the sentence. If this is the first time in the story that you've used a construction like this, it might look weird to the reader, and probably unjustified. But if this fits into the tone of the piece easily, then it works.
     
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  11. CerebralAssassin
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    CerebralAssassin New Member

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    how about "His voice soft at first,then hardens as..."
     
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  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How about with a colon?

    He begins soft: "I can't go up."

    Like others have said, the general style of the piece will probably determine whether this will work or not. I don't think I'd find it particularly jarring, and it's not like I wouldn't have gotten what you meant, so... I guess in the end it's your call.
     
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  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I fixed it... :ninja:
     
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  14. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    All the question makes me think about is what sort of tracks an adverb would leave. Would it be wet shiny ones?
     
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  15. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Lol - they eagerly leave tracks.

    The story is Not Pink - an altered scene in which the robot is suggesting they go up to Roxannes's and this is Mr. Willoughby's reply. So it's not a story that isn't breaking some grammar rules. It shouldn't stick out too much. But also being that it's the robot's pov maybe he would use correct grammar - ah decisions, decisions. I hate getting hung up on one thing.
    Thanks for all the help everyone!
     
  16. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    When I read your sentence I also think of - 'But, soft! What light through younder wonder breaks?'
     
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  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Isn't that supposed to be "yonder window"?
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I rather like younder wonder!
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're not necessarily referring to the loudness of his speech, but the stiffness of his backbone, aren't you? It's not really grammatical, but this is creative writing, and if it suits your tone, then use it. I think your voice is terrific, and I trust your choice here.
     
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  20. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    yonder wonder / yindow window / younder wounder - all the mame to see.

    I think 'he begins soft' works nicely
     
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  21. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    My brain as usual just filled in the right word. But I hate what that happens when you're trying to edit. That's why I'm writing stuff out in long hand.

    Thanks Jannert! Yes, it is more about the symbolism of Hart's anger than about his voice. I'm tentatively keeping it. I don't know about in the final draft.
     
  22. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    It's one word - that as a writer I know I could dwell on just as long. Any reader of the whole book probably won't even notice or appreciate how much thought has gone into that one word. We should put footnotes that point out these things to readers shouldn't we?
     
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  23. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Go hard or go home!

    He begins soft. "I can't go up."

    I think it works because you can apply it to the character, and the soft can carry far more information than just the description of his voice; his demeanour, facial expression, body language, etc. Whilst not explicit, it could certainly lead you to apply all those attributes. This is further supported when you add in the extra description when he goes hard - a clenched fist vs an open palm, as his resolve and his tone harden.

    But his tone hardens as he turns away and clenches his fist. "I won't go up."

    ps: I share a ritual with a friend called, "Euphemism Friday" and this example is dripping with it...
     
  24. UpstateWriter
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    UpstateWriter Member

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    I think OCCASIONAL use of adverb modifiers after dialogue is acceptable. But have seen so many tragic times that it's overused. When possible, let the dialogue itself capture the mood or tone. But I agree that if are going to use the modifier, go with 'softly'
     
  25. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Personally, I like neither soft or softly. It has no emotional significance.

    He avoided my gaze as he said, "I can't go up."

    Stomping his feet, he firmly said, "I won't give up!"

    This gives your readers something more visual to imagine than "soft."
     
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