Skip to main content

Adverbs & Cliches in a Nutshell - Guest Post by Jessica Bell

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you.
by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.
“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.” ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights
Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo


Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook


Comments

Jessica Bell said…
Thank you so much for having me today :-)

Popular posts from this blog

Virtual Book Tour for The Healing Begins April 23

As we approach launch day for Lynda Faye Schmidt's novel, The Healing , a women's fiction/family drama based on the author's life, we're excited to announce the blog tour schedule and introduce you to the bloggers and book reviewers who have joined the tour. The tour begins on launch day, April 23rd. Take a look, follow these bloggers and make sure you visit on the tour dates indicated (check back regularly for updates): Pre-Tour - March 2 - Thrive Global - pre-launch announcement  April 16 - Fit for Joy - pre-launch podcast interview with Lynda April 23 - IndieView - author Q&A with Lynda April 24 -  Canadian Bookworm  - featuring a guest blog by Lynda, "What Inspired Me" April 26 - Dartmouth Book Exchange - author spotlight April 29 - Storybook Reviews - review May 4 -  Help Me Sara  - podcast interview May 13 -  My Question Life  - review and author interview June 30 - Reader's Favorite - review  Date TBD - Maryse's Book Blog - review Date

By the Light of the Cresent Moon Virtual Book Tour

On August 26th, we will launch Ailsa Keppie's much awaited memoir, By the Light of the Crescent Moon . On the same day we will launch her virtual book tour, featuring the blogs below joining the tour with reviews, author Q&As and guest posts. Visit and follow these blogs and make sure you follow the tour. As the posts go live we will update the links here to go direct to the tour post. Thanks to the following bloggers & podcasters who have joined the tour: Dartmouth Book Exchange - author spotlight - August 23-26 The IndieView - author Q&A - August 26 Sarah Butland's Imagination Captured - book review - August 26 The Author Journey with OC Publishing - author interview - August 26 Canadian Bookworm - guest post by Ailsa Keppie, Why I Wrote My Memoir - August 27 Just Reviews - book review - August 28 Storeybook Reviews - guest post by Ailsa Keppie, The Voice in My Head - August 29 Lisa Haselton's Reviews & Interviews - author Q&A - August 31 Laura&

Holiday Launch Planned for Late Author's Second Children's Book

 We are saddened by the recent passing of the very vivacious, funny, gorgeous, and talented author, Jackie Arnason. Last year, at the age of 87, we published her first Children's book, Hambone-Why Pigs Have Curly Tails . After a brief illness, Jackie passed away in September of this year, while we were well-underway in the publishing process for her second book, Timothy Titus Terrance O'Toole and the Dragon. With the support of her family, we pressed on and will launch her book in December.  Jackie Arnason A beloved story-teller to all those who knew and loved her, with the publishing of her first book, and now her second, a lifelong dream has been fulfilled. Her legacy will live on in the lessons and magical stories she shared through the years. A prairie girl, born in a small town in Saskatchewan, Jackie's childhood years in the 'Dirty Thirties' were hard but the local library became her haven where she escaped into worlds she could only dream of growing up in Reg