Saturday, February 19, 2011

Searching for adverbs on a sunny day

Jacob had his first ride in the convertible with the top down today. When I put it down, he said, "Oh! My! Gosh! I didn't know your car did that, Juju!" And when I had to maneuver his suitcase between the car door and a tree (I hadn't been smart about where in the driveway I stopped), he said, "You can do it, because you're so strong!" Then, this child who's always telling me I'm old, looked at me with new respect and said, "You're not old, Juju!" There, that's the whole reason I bought the car (well maybe not entirely)--I didn't want to be a stodgy old grandmother.
Aside from that trip to meet his mom and an outing to the Botanic Garden late this afternoon, I spent the day inside, at the computer, searching for adverbs. Turquoise Morning Press sends out a most helpful style guide, with a self editing section on things to do a gobal search for: "ly," "ing," "had," "to be," (I didn't have many of those), and "was." Folks, if you don't think that is mind-numbing work, you don't realize how many times we all fall into those traps. Sometimes it's a challenge to find, for instance,  you've used an unnecessary adverb and then figure out how to write around it. But the biggest surprise to me was to search for exclamation points. I know you shouldn't use them, I've removed them by the thousands from other people's works, and yet I can't even begin to estimate how many times I found them in my own manuscript. This is not a one-day job--more like a week or two, but I'm plugging away at it and keeping the Food Network on while I do it.
One of my most favorite blogs is "Mystery Lovers Kitchen" where several mystery authors share recipes. Sure, they promote their books along the way--fair practice--but I've gotten some wonderful recipes from them, especially a beef company casserole from Riley Adams. But tonight I fixed myself creamed spinach--thank you, July Hyzy. The neat thing about this fairly simple recipe is that you don't have to use cream--I used chicken broth and white wine. Meant to add a dollop of sour cream, but it was out of date so I poured in a bit of 2% milk. You saute the spinach with garlic in olive oil, remove, and make a roux of butter and flour. Then add liquid, stir until smooth and the right consistency, and put the spinach back in the pan. With it I had a loin lamb chop, seasoned only with salt and pepper, grilled medium rare (more rare than medium). It was so good, since no one was watching, I gnawed on the bone. Right now, spaghetti sauce is simmering on the stove, and my house smells lovely.


E. B. Davis said...

Why don't they like "ing" words, Judy? Jumping, running, playing-to me those are action words that add movement books. The other day I was reading a book that has received good reviews, and found that the author didn't confine herself to, "Diane said." The author actually used the tags, "Diane pondered." Wow, it was so nice to read something descriptive and different for a change. Too many rules!

Judy Alter said...

They're looking for passive voice--he was running instead of he ran, etc. Hard to remember all these things! Said is a hard one to get around, especially when you're told to eliminate adverbs which sort of soften said, describing the way something is said, etc.