“I could drink a case of you, darling, and I would still be on my feet.” – James Blake, A Case of You
I can’t find the reference this morning but there’s a conversation between Elmore Leonard and an interviewer about when Mr. Leonard’s writing got good. I’m paraphrasing, but Leonard said, “When I went back and took all the adverbs out.”
I’ve come back to that piece of advice as I’ve gotten back to writing. Adverbs have their place but when I read previous work of mine (not yet available here but still accessible here), I can see that that part of speech is a crutch. I throw a word with an -ly on the end into a sentence when I’m not confident in it. When I don’t believe I’ve gotten my point across.
It’s a cheat. A hedged bet. Most often, I use adverbs to soften my statements. To give myself a way out.
So, at least for the next little while, I’m giving up on those tricky modifiers and qualifiers.
I will say what I mean. And it will pop with confidence and certainty. I will allow my words to stand on their own and defend them when challenged.
I won’t hide behind weak expression in order to save face later.
That’s not the man I am anymore.