Adverbs. Avoid them, we’re told.
When you think of adverbs, which ones come to mind? For many of us, it’s those ending in -ly.
Another group of adverbs sneaks into my work. These are prepositions taking the role of an adverb. A fancy description is adverb or adverbial particles.
Examples of adverbial particles are: above, about, in, out, up, down, before, across, off, on, below, and behind. What transforms these words from preposition to adverb is the lack of a noun serving as the object of the preposition.
The two adverbial particles that find their way into my writing most often are up and down. Here are examples:
She stood up.
He knelt down.
While there is nothing wrong with either of these sentences, I could do without up and down and still convey the full meaning of the verb without the use of a modifying adverb.
The reason I can delete the adverbial particle up in the first example is that when a reader hears that someone stood, she assumes the character stood up because one wouldn’t say a character stood down.
The reason I can delete the adverbial particle down in the second example is that when I rears hears that someone knelt, she assumes the character knelt down because one wouldn’t say a character knelt up.
Using up and down as I did in the examples isn’t incorrect, but since I tend to produce words aplenty, I look for places where I can put my prose on a diet in order to tighten my writing. Eliminating unnecessary adverbial particles is one way I can reduce my word count.
Being a writer, at least a wordy one like me, does have its ups and downs at times. But now, you’ll be able to have a few less words in your stories if you choose to use this tip.