Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Robert Rotenberg, a Toronto criminal lawyer and author who has been called “The Canadian John Grisham,” though he tells me he’d prefer to be compared to Scott Turow…but I digress.
One of the things Robert (Bobby to his friends) recommended was to do a “ly” space search once you’ve finished the first draft of your manuscript.
The rationale is that authors tend to “pad” the word count with adverbs like really, quickly, actually etc. It’s also an indication that the verb used could be stronger. For example, “really big,” could be replaced with “enormous,” a more powerful word.
Now, I found that interesting and decided to do the the ly space check on my current Work-in-Progress (approx. 32,000 words) and was absolutely (oops, there’s one) astounded at the number of times I’d used a word ending in ly that wasn’t necessary OR where the verb needed some punching up.
In fact, in this last sentence, it would have been better to say “flabbergasted” vs. “absolutely astounded.”