In my writing workshop a long debate broke out about adverbs. Why they are evil, when they are needed and when they are not. The participants even offered example sentences of good and bad use of adverbs and when they are and are not needed for clarity.
This is killing me…
I’m reading a rather large novel at the moment. Adverbs? Not so many. Backstory? Loads of it. Expository dialog for the reader’s benefit? Yes, and heavy handed. Head hopping? Frequently…at least twice a page, I’d bet. And the author threw in a few sentence fragments to add more color. There are secondary characters — lots and lots of them — two of which have the same first letter in their first name.
Obviously this writer has a hard time with the rules for writing. Is it going to be an issue for this book and his chances for success?
I dunno… I think Dune has done rather well. Hugo and Nebula Awards, 17 trazillion copies sold (including the other titles in the series).
Now — before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion — I’m not saying the rules don’t matter. And what most people call rules I’ll call guidelines. The guidelines do matter. All else being equal, abiding them can make a story better.
Herbert reportedly took 6 years to write Dune. Given the immense complexity of what the novel depicts, my sense is that damn near every sentence, every paragraph in this tome was carefully considered and constructed. So his decision not to abide the traditional guidance and supposed rules of writing was carefully considered and not the result of laziness or a lack of understanding.
So I suggest we not feel bound by “rules”. We should be very* deterministic about how we write and when we don’t abide the rules.
* adverb use intentional