Are any of these words in your artist statement or bio?

I love Marcia Yudkin’s book 6 Steps to Free Publicity and her weekly newsletter. This one hurt, though. It’s easy for me to delete these adverbs from my clients’ statements and bios, but much harder to remove from my own text.

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Luckily there isn’t a Committee to Defend the Adverb.  Because today, readers, I implore you:  Whenever you see one in your prose, pull it over to the side and grill it about whether or not it has a legitimate reason to be there.  If not, hurl it into the bushes.  Stamp it into oblivion.

Worst offenders:

* Intensifiers, like "really," "very," "extremely."  Always be suspicious of these.  You inserted them to rev up your meaning, but to readers they have the opposite effect.  Out!

* "Actually" or "in fact."  If I’d said "to readers they actually have the opposite effect," would I have changed my point?  No.  Out!

* "Literally."  Almost always this word deserves squelching.  To decide, apply the dictionary meaning to the next word.  Is it true?  "We literally exploded in laughter."  You did not explode.  Out!

* Bad-habit adverbs.  The chaplain at a college where I once taught inserted "somehow" into every other sentence to express perplexity at the twists and turns of life.  Excise such distracting mannerisms from your writing, too.

If a word does nothing or mucks up your point… Out!

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4 comments to Are any of these words in your artist statement or bio?

  • Mary Richmond

    good reminders–actually i was just literally thinking about this….;-) seriously, (another bad one no doubt) I use the aforementioned too often so it’s a timely message for me…thanks!

  • when a talking head (or politician) starts off a comment with “the fact of the matter is”, I assume they are lying, or really don’t have anything valid to add, but are only hoping to negate the other person’s comment.

  • It’s interesting that this came while I’m editing my book and the deadline (self-imposed) is June 1. I’m deleting adverbs left and right!

  • SK Cothren

    Thanks for the update. As an ex-English teacher, I agree that “really” and “very” are “extremely” overused. Fine in conversation, but seem immature in writing.