Saturday, October 29, 2011


Adjectives modify nouns.

The dress is red. “Red” is an adjective.

Adverbs modify verbs, or other parts of speech that aren’t nouns. Many end in “ly.”

He ran quickly. “Quickly” is an adverb.


Language has rules, and syntax is the ordered placement of words in a sentence. In English, the order is generally Subject Verb Object (SVO). Adverbs, like all modifiers, should be placed as closely as possible to the words they modify to clarify meaning. But, like ice cream, too much of a good thing can be bad. When writers depend on adverbs to explain character traits or show emotion, their sentences sound weak.

“Hi, honey,” James sweetly intoned. “How was your day?”

Many “ly” verbs also modify the verb “said” because writers want to spice it up. I don’t have a problem with “said,” but some writers do. Read the publication you want to write for, and follow its style guidelines. As a former staff writer for a magazine that used the word “says,” (which I hated) I can tell you that after a while I just read past those “says,” which is also what we do with the word “said.”

Read the following examples, and then rewrite them to make the sentences stronger. Can you show the reader that Laura is tired, and Susan is cold?

 “I am so tired,” Laura said, weakly.

“Where are my gloves?” Susan said, coldly.

Cut back on “ly” words, especially those that assist weak verbs. Don’t let adverbs suck the life out of your content. Rewrite those sentences with “ly” words to strengthen your writing.


Before she opened the door, James had Sheila’s martini on the table next to her favorite chair. (James is sweet, and/or thoughtful.)

Laura yawned more than a dozen times during the seven-minute presentation. (Laura is tired.)

Susan rubbed her hands together, and cupped them in front of her mouth to warm them with her breath. (Susan is cold.)

Write soon,


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2 Rivers Communications & Design

Dianna Graveman has recently opened 2 Rivers Communications & Design. She provides quality business communications and editorial services for a wide range of projects and clients.
Graveman is a Missouri writer, editor, speaker, and educator who has written for CBS-St. Louis, Suburban JournalsAOL/Patch, St. Anthony Messenger, Teachers of Vision Magazine, and dozens of other publications. She provides workshops on writing, publishing, and social media marketing, and is the current managing editor of the Missouri Writers' Guild newsletter.

A talented writer who gives more than 110 percent to every project, Graveman can help any business meet its communications goals. For more information, contact her through:

Write soon,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inspiring interview

Claire Cook, the author of Must Love Dogs and luncheon keynote speaker for the 2012 Missouri Writers Guild Conference, was interviewed recently on the MWG blog

She offers inspiration to writers who struggle with finding time to write and/or finish what they start (I think that covers everyone). You can also enter a drawing to win a copy of her book, Best Staged Plans, by leaving a comment.

Write soon,