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  1. Picaroon

    Picaroon Banned

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    He said gruffly.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Picaroon, Mar 18, 2014.

    Today I've been on a witch hunt for any word ending in "ly". Most I have been able to remove easily, and my book is better for it. But in some cases it seems that the alternative would just be adding a lot of extra words. Here is an example:

    "This is my son Felix," Napoleon said gruffly. "He wanted to see the museum."

    Now, I know 'gruffly' is frowned upon by every editor out there. But I need to convey his body language somehow. Napoleon is really an a-hole and he doesn't like the person he's talking to. I could add another sentence to replace the word gruffly, but why bother?
     
  2. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't have a problem with this. Ditching every adverb isn't really the idea behind the 'rule' anyway. It was more to get
    writer's especially newbies who hadn't developed their voice yet, to keep from leaning on them. I still use them.

    If you feel it works and you've done your duty in the surrounding sentences to show Napoleon's attitude then keep it.
     
  3. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Use adverbs sparingly ;). Like @peachalulu says, here's nothing absolute in that recommendation.

    "This is my son Felix," Napoleon said gruffly. "He wanted to see the museum."
    There are other options depending on what you are trying to say with the adverb.

    "This is my son Felix," Napoleon said, his tone impatient. [stifling his anger, etc.] "He wanted to see the museum."
    "This is my son Felix," Napoleon said, no attempt to disguise his annoyance [embarrassment, anger, etc.]. "He wanted to see the museum."
    Those options may or may not be better, it depends on the flow of the piece in that section. But a writer can say a lot more by trading the adverb for more description. The other suggested option is to trade the verb/adverb for for a different verb which expresses the action directly. But in this case you also have the issue of keeping 'said' most of the time and not using a lot of other verbs. Again one is up against these 'rules'. They are guidelines, there are reasons, but they are not absolute.
     
  4. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you're not doing this kind of thing all the time, you can use more descriptive verbs:

    "This is my son Felix," Napoleon growled. "He wanted to see the museum."
     
  5. Picaroon

    Picaroon Banned

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    Great suggestions and info, thanks! The writer of a book I was reading pretty much advocated removing every single one, and so I took the advice to heart, even as I watched my prose grow flat before my eyes. Too bad the word 'gruffed' doesn't exist :)
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Watch out for anyone who says that all adverbs are always bad all the time. They're valid words and they have their uses. The problem comes when people use them too often to cover for their weak verbs. If you choose strong verbs, you don't need as many adverbs. That's basically it. :)
     
    obsidian_cicatrix and peachalulu like this.
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My problem with this isn't about adverbs, it's about the connotations of "gruffly". While the desired meaning is in line with its dictionary definition, I have most often seen the word used to mean a rough, offhand manner deliberately put on in order to conceal softer and more sentimental feelings. Is this just me, or do others get the same vibe for this word?
     
  8. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Use it anyway, it fits.
     
  9. Robert_S

    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    How about writing about the guy's posture? His hesitation in speaking and how he ends his words with a quick cutoff. Body language is incredibly revealing.
     

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