How to Make Enemies — Zero Effort!

I often wonder what it is that has made my wife and I so maligned by so many so often.

Not that it matters. We’ve gotten by fine thus far, and without putting too fine a point on it, those who’ve maligned us aren’t missed. If they don’t like us, they don’t like us, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

It happened to me about four months ago — just under. Someone who I thought was a “friend” got her panties in a knot over something really stupid, IMHO, and proceeded to rail against me. It took me by surprise, shocked me a little, but when the dust all settled, she cut herself out of my life, and by all appearances, is not interested in reconciling at all. In her twisted neuro-network, she thinks she’s been injured somehow and I’m to blame. The evidence speaks for itself, and no one that’s viewed it agrees with her. What’re you gonna do, though? So she’s gone, I don’t miss her, and I’m not going to worry about it. I never did.

Well, for some reason, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and help younger, less experienced, or aspiring writers improve their craft. I’m always interested in getting better at it, and I assume (there’s a dangerous word) others are too, so I decided to glean some information from the Internet and gather some resources for others, share it on my deviantART page, and with any luck, those reading it will become stronger for the effort I took. And it was effort; maybe not a herculean one, but an effort just the same. I gathered the information from various web sites and put it all together in a digestible, easy-to-read and (hopefully) amusing format.

Most people found them helpful. Some more helpful than others, of course; no two writers are in exactly the same place of growth. For example, my article on use of ellipses and em dashes was a smash hit. While the follow-up article, on use of “Lay” vs. “Lie”, and its various forms, was popular, but not the huge hit the first one was. Not as many people are confused (or realize they’re confused) about it as I thought, so it didn’t get as much attention. And my last piece, a broad, non-specific overview of POV, isn’t anywhere near as popular as the other two.

Based on the reaction it received on my own page, my article on adverbs in fiction is going to be a flop.

Most writers on this particular web site don’t see “the problem” with adverbs. It’s also probably safe to say most of them are under 21, many under 18, and most if not all of those who fall into the aforementioned category have no clue what it is to write adult-oriented, publishing-polished prose. I had to learn this the hard and painful way, and it took me a while to realize I could do it, but 2008 and has been the year of writing growth for me. I’ve worked hard to improve my craft, and I’ve worked hard to learn to eliminate adverbs — those ending in “ly” at least — from my prose.

So far, so good.

But when I put that li’l article on my journal page, I got a reaction I didn’t know it would get, and it came from an unexpected source.

I knew some of the writers I “follow” (meaning, they “friended” me, I “friended” them, and theoretically, we read each other’s work; pragmatically, we’re notified of one another’s work) were going to be … hm … let’s use the word resistant … to the idea of eliminating adverbs. I’ve been called everything from “Adverb Natzi” [sic] to “Adverb Hater”. I kept waiting for the Seinfeldian “Anti-Adverbite” reference, but they’re probably too young to remember Seinfeld anyway. I had no idea, though, that some of them would be so desperate in their resistance to the idea that they’d resort to making it about gender and genre in an attempt to excuse using them in prose!


18 thoughts on “How to Make Enemies — Zero Effort!

  1. LOML — NO, no hiccup in the page, just in my brain, I guess. I did, in fact, post that portion twice. I had to copy and paste from a different editor than I’m used to, so there might be typos and misspellings too. 😦

    Thanks for the heads-up. I don’t get it either, but what can you do? It is what it is. πŸ™‚

  2. Bryce — I never did stomach the stuff to know, but that’s the impression I got. I have no clue how cutting out adverbs makes it read like porn unless it was already porn, sprinkled liberally with adverbs. That was my point. I don’t know whether she got it or not. *shrug* But I’m with you on this.

  3. I don’t know that anything can make porn not be porn.

    Perhaps this why you should seek out a writing group in real time? People are less likely to indulge in the “confrontational” style nose to nose.

  4. And speaking of romance novels, I have a mildly-related story. (At least it’s short)

    My wife and I went on vacation back to her hometown a few years ago. We stopped at her old local library. I was waiting for her to find something when I noticed I was sitting next to a wire rack containing bodice-rippers a’plenty.

    I pulled one off the rack and opened it somewhere in the middle.

    The very first line on the left hand side of the page read, and I swear this is true, as it was etched in my memory forever.

    “He turned her over his knee and spanked her like the little girl she was acting like.”

    I almost wanted to know how the whole scene started, but figured I’d better quick before I became addicted.

  5. And one last comment/question. Darcknyt, why are you breaking up your pages so short? I have to scroll down, like, forever to get to the comments anyway. Why not have the post at least go down to the bottom of the sidebar before splitting the page?

    Just an idea…

  6. Annie — Me either. That’s why I told her if it read like porn she needed better nouns and verbs, to make the description more what she wanted.

    You’re right, of course, I need a real-life writer’s group, but this was just an informational little thing I popped up for those interested. I never expected the strength of reaction I got, especially from someone who claims they respect my work and learn just be reading my stuff. I figured with that attitude, she’d really like the little research pieces. And she claims, as of yesterday, she’s a believer in my adverbless gospel, but her husband hasn’t said anything to me at all.

    Who knows what the reaction will be if they see this post. Heh.

    And just so you’re aware, this is NOT someone I’d let critique my work in a serious way. πŸ˜€ She is, by her own admission, not accomplished enough for that. But I do enjoy having folks read.

  7. Bryce, my man — I thought my wife might recognize the book by your description. Isn’t it funny how we see the crap published now? I read a book originally published in something like 1984 or something, and it was about some plans for a secret super-powerful weapon Leonardo Da Vinci designed and hid in his drawings, and some secret Catholic sect protecting it, and all that. Sound familiar? Yeah, it was re-released around the time of the Da Vinci Code furor. But the “edits” had the time line so screwed up … part of the book took place in the present, and part was dated in the 80’s, and it was really bad. Just bad.

    That’s one of the final straws that pushed me into taking writing seriously as a future. I’ve been writing since about 4th grade, but I decided then and there that, if THAT guy could see print, I could too.

    Now I know the folly of believing that.

    And, about the pages? One word: Scraping.

    I’ll see what I can do about a better theme to help. Longer pages won’t hurt either. Thanks for letting me know.

  8. CV — I don’t know if being willing to use punchier verbs makes you a “word nerd”; I think it just means you’re a serious writer interested in publication. I’m not sure that applied to everyone mentioned in this post. πŸ˜‰

    FWIW, I’m doing that too, when I can. If I need to help the word along, it’s not descriptive enough. I’m targeting adjectives next. πŸ˜€

    Thanks for coming by!

  9. I didn’t read the whole blog post. (About a page and a half.)I am at work and I noticed that my break is coming to an end.

    People don’t like being told that there way isn’t the best way. But I think every writer (professional, student or amateur) has to learn how to deal with and accept constructive criticism.

    In fact, I think that trait should be taught in schools.

  10. WIGSF — You’re onto something there, sir. It SHOULD be taught in school. Not just TAKING it, either, but GIVING it. Creative writing courses (and maybe just in general) should teach critique methods and MANNERS to students, too.

    Great idea. Thanks for stopping by! Good to see you!

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