Wednesday, February 4, 2015

So. Many. Adverbs!

This past Saturday I received an unexpected Facebook message from DarkAngel1326! Man, I miss talking to her. Stupid college courses keeping her busy...

My point - aside from the awesomeness of talking to her again - was that she sent me a link that seemed PERFECT for what I was trying to accomplish this week. Namely, improve on my over-elaboration when I write, as well as my surprising fondness of adverbs.
Lolly, Lolly, Lolly was always one of my favorites...

So, what was this awesome website DA1326 sent me? Well, she introduced me to Hemingway Editor.

Out of curiosity, I dumped last week's blog post in to Hemingway in order to see what my normal journaling is like.
  • My blog post should be readable in less than six minutes.
  • It is written at a ninth grade reading level; a bit more advanced than my usual aim of the journalism norm of 7th grade.
  • Out of the 70 sentences that had made up my blog post, 16 were hard to read and another 19 were very hard.
  • I could have used simpler phrases 16 times.
  • I had three cases of passive voice; mostly when I was talking about critiques of my writing.
  • Here's the big one. I had 21 adverbs. TWENTY. ONE.
Now to clarify a few things. This is what Hemingway means when it says "hard" or "very hard" to read sentences:
Hard-to-read sentences: "long, complex sentences and common errors; shorten or split it."
Very-Hard-to-Read: "your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence"
The funny thing is, most of my "long, complex" sentences are just ones with two or three phrases combined via commas or semi-colons. For instance, this was one of the "hard" sentences: "Normally I'd just shrug it off because this is a smaller computer; I shouldn't expect it to be able to do too much."

Even better are the "dense and complicated" sentences. For example: "Well, that's frustrating."

Seriously? That sentence was dense, complicated, or had meandering and splitting logic!? Go home, Hemingway, you're drunk.

I think I just realized why they named the website that!

Honestly, I ignore the sentence difficulty notifications on Hemingway, but it's still cool to see what boosts your readability grade-level. Same more-or-less goes with the phrases with simpler options. Things like "use" instead of "utilize".

So, the stats I really zero-in on are the adverbs and passive voice.

Let me tell you, when I focused on the adverbs and saw twenty-one, I freaked out. How could I have never noticed that I use them so frequently?! However, I have to admit that adverbs are a nice way to short-cut what I'm trying to say. It's faster to say "rarely" than it is to say "only once in a while." I guess it's just part of my writing voice. I know I should fix that, but I sincerely doubt I'm going to get rid of as many adverbs as I should. I mean, I used one in the previous sentence!

All of that aside, I do wish to improve my writing. Therefore, when I was done editing the next portion of Please, Let Me Explain I dumped it in to Hemingway as well. We had twenty-three adverbs! Just as bad as my blog post! Worse, even, because it's prose. It kept a little bit of work and finesse, but with some real effort I was able to whittle down to only six adverbs. I was "allotted" five by Hemingway, and all of those were in dialogue. I wasn't going to cut adverbs out of dialogue, it just doesn't sound natural then. The other one? Well... I just couldn't figure out how to replace it without being legitimately long-winded about it. Yet, I also couldn't figure out how to omit it completely.

I had to do a lot of rearranging and rewording in order to get the section where it needed to be. I'm waiting for Ronoxym to get back to me approving the changes. The section I edited is only about 1200 words anyway. I might hold off until I get more of the story edited for the chapter. However, if I go until the next natural story break the overall second chapter will end up being an additional 3000 words long. So, what do you guys think? Should I post what I have polished off once Ron approves? Or should I polish off what I was originally considering as "part two" when I first organized the story? I mean, 4200 words isn't THAT big of a chapter, is it?

I mean, the first chapter I have up is a little shy of 2900 words. So 4200 isn't that much worse, right?

I'm just sad that I couldn't get more accomplished before now. I've been feeling under the weather, and so I tend to just open up the file, edit a couple of sentences, and then pass out.

I'm also ashamed that I failed at one of my resolutions. I didn't read a novel last month. I guess that means I need to go through two of them this month to make up for it. I did attempt to re-read my book of Greek mythology in order to better get in to the mindset of how they are written. This way I could go back and edit The Divine Legends so they seemed old-world and true-to-life without having an overwhelming amount of passive voice and adverbs. Problem is, I forgot the book I own isn't a direct English translation of the myths. It's a simplified retelling so it's easier to comprehend. However, this also means it feels more like a friend of mine telling me the myths instead of me reading them myself. Not a good thing to study in order to get the voice I want in these tales.

I'll have to try a different tactic, and remember to get some novel reading in!

Well, this post is late enough as it is. I think I should get to work on both PLME and reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment