The “ly” Check


Well, that’s what I call it anyway. This is a technique my first editor taught me. In Word, you type “ly” in the search box and it shows you every word ending in “ly” (or with “ly” in it) throughout your document. Words like “really” and “only” are a problem for me. I use them too much. Also, there is a lot of adverb abuse out there. The best way to avoid it is to replace every “ly” word with a different phrase. It makes your writing seem more intelligent too!

Oh! It also increases word count! I added around 1000 words! It really adds up.

Here is an example. This is my original excerpt from How to Win Friends and Influence Magicians, followed by the ly-free version. I kept some of the “ly” words, but can you see a difference?

Excerpt 1 (before “ly” check):

“Well, hello!” he purred, a little half-grin breaking across his amazing face just for me. “What are you doing here?” His voice was naughty and gorgeous. It was low and enticing with a purr to it, like a tiger who wasn’t going to eat me. The tiger even liked me a bit, but might choose to eat me in the future. Also, I would thoroughly enjoy it if he did.

Now, I was fully aware that I was sweaty, tear-stained, red-eyed, red-nosed, and totally disheveled. It was not an attractive moment. Naughty Hottie was messy in a completely planned way that was even better than being tidy and put-together. Every movement and line of him seemed naturally comfortable. And he was smiling at me as if he was the Wolf and I was Little Red Riding Hood with a giant basket of goodies for Grandmother.

“I….” I faltered, unable to think of any way to explain, “I can’t get out!” Naughty Hottie looked at me and the path, puzzled in an attractive way. “Honest! Whenever I go that way, off-campus, I somehow end up completely turned around and going in again.” Naughty Hottie gazed at me knowingly. Of course he knew all about Teimnydd restrictions and punishments, because he was so bad. He studied me in a leisurely, bold way that made me worry that some Teimnydduus might have x-ray vision. Then he turned and walked slowly down the path until he was “off campus”. He held out his arms gracefully in a gesture of completion. He could get out. So I followed, and then I didn’t and I was back where I started.

“Yep, that’s a Capio spell just for you, Kitten. You know, you don’t look like a bad girl.” He trod back to me, languid and sleek.

“Um, I’m not. I’m just…new.”

“New?”

“Yeah.”

“Care to elaborate?” he coaxed, his interest piqued, but in a languid, feline way that could evaporate at any moment.

I shook my head. I did not want to elaborate. Though at this moment I was desperately trying to break a “stay here” spell by The Drop herself, I couldn’t bring myself to cross the line to reveal information about my unique status. I wanted to keep the secret, even though Joel had just ruined it and the whole campus probably knew about the Baby Teimnydduus Freshman by now. Naughty Hottie did not appear to know and I didn’t want him to know.

“OK,” he replied, as if my refusing to enlighten him didn’t bother him in the slightest. Then he held out his hand. I stared. He moved his hand in a way that beckoned. He wanted me to take his hand. I reached out toward him, mesmerized somehow to obey. But then I hesitated, looking into his face for confirmation, explanation, or assurance that my hand would be returned to me at some point, whole and uninjured in any physical or spiritual way. He pulled that little gut-melting half-grin again and his eyes softened into a catastrophic mixture of beckoning and scolding. I slid my hand into his. He led me toward the “off campus” spot. And then he was there and I was not, looking back into campus again. Our hands had slipped apart in the blink of an eye.

He looked at me again, communicating with his eyes. (As I was quickly learning, he was Grand Master of Eye Communication.) This time, he approved of my impressive level of badness, seeing as even he was unable to thwart the “Capio” spell that was needed to contain naughty, naughty me. He was also ready to face the challenge again, because no spell designed to prevent rule-breaking was going to stop him.

A moment later he had returned to my enforced position and swept me up into his long, muscular arms. I rested in the “princess carry”, heart fluttering, as he walked me toward freedom. Then we were both back on campus, turned around.

“Who are you?” he asked in a sexy whisper. He didn’t put me down.

I was breathless and my brain had completely evaporated. “…Colleen,” I whispered. His eyes reprimanded me (sexy!) and demanded more. I didn’t want to tell him, but I couldn’t help myself. “Colleen Underhill.”

One eyebrow lifted. In a lot of popular books I have read, people can either do this or can’t and it is a point of pride or shame for them. I have never met anyone who has any deep feelings whatsoever on the raising of eyebrows. You can or you can’t. So what?

Naughty Hotty could and, of course, it was dangerously sexy. Even more dangerous and sexy, he looked me over like a tiger embracing a new kind of meat he might like to devour. “You’re the new one, aren’t you?” All I could do was nod (evaporated brain, remember?). “Mmmmm,” he said, which could be interpreted as “Mmmm, I see,” or as “Mmmmm, delicious.” My knees evaporated too, which was OK because he still held me in his arms.

“Well, Colleen Underhill, I’m London Vadoma.  Nice to meet you,” he purred. (Insert all previous sexy descriptions here.)

“Mmmmm,” I replied, which could be interpreted as “Mmmmm, your wish is my command,” or “Mmmmm, take me, London Vadoma, I’m yours.” That little half-smile evaporated my internal organs.

Then he set me down. Surprisingly I could still stand without my knees, but that must have worked because I was unburdened by the weight of my brain or internal organs.

“Yeah,” he decided, “I’m not really disappointed you’re stuck here. See ya!”  And with that, he sauntered away.

When he was out of my sight, my brain was the first to return, followed by my organs. That made me tipsy because the weight of my brain overset the hollowness of missing organs and no knees. Next, my heart appeared back inside my chest cavity fully chilled by the way-too-bad-for-Colleen-ness of London Vadoma. The appearance of my knees followed a little too far behind for comfort, but at least I didn’t fall down. Yes, Naughty Hottie London Vadoma was waaaaaay too dangerous for a little suburbanite Skupdyn like me. He was definitely a guy to adore from afar.

I was late for class.

Excerpt 2 (after “ly” check)

“Well, hello!” he purred, a little half-grin breaking across his amazing face just for me. “What are you doing here?” His voice was naughty and gorgeous. It was low and enticing with a purr to it, like a tiger who wasn’t going to eat me. The tiger even liked me a bit, but might choose to eat me in the future. Also, I would enjoy it very much if he did.

I was kind of surprised that the brother alarm hadn’t gone into overdrive already. I half-expected to see my burly older brother and scrappy younger brother punching their way through the magic to get to me. This was the third hot guy who had acknowledged my existence and I was unused to avoiding the bro-bomb considering the volume of flirting.

Now, I was hyper-aware that I was sweaty, tear-stained, red-eyed, red-nosed, and horribly disheveled. It was not an attractive moment. Naughty Hottie was messy in a planned way that was even better than being tidy and put-together. Every movement and line of him seemed natural and comfortable. And he was smiling at me as if he was the Wolf and I was Little Red Riding Hood with a giant basket of goodies for Grandmother.

“I….” I faltered, unable to think of any way to explain, “I can’t get out!” Naughty Hottie looked at me and the path, puzzled in an attractive way. “Honest! Whenever I go that way, off-campus, I somehow end up turned around and going in again.” Naughty Hottie gazed at me with knowing eyes. Of course he knew all about Teimnydd restrictions and punishments because he was so bad. He studied me at his leisure, in a bold way that made me worry that some Teimnydduus might have x-ray vision. Then he turned and walked with confidence down the path until he was “off campus”. He held out his arms in a graceful gesture of completion. He could get out. So I followed, and then I didn’t and I was back where I started.

“Yep, that’s a Capio spell just for you, Kitten. You know, you don’t look like a bad girl.” He trod back to me, languid and sleek.

“Um, I’m not. I’m just…new.”

“New?”

“Yeah.”

“Care to elaborate?” he coaxed, his interest piqued, but in a languid, feline way that could evaporate at any moment.

I shook my head. I did not want to elaborate. Though at this moment I was desperate to break a “stay here” spell by The Drop herself, I couldn’t bring myself to cross the line to reveal information about my unique status. I wanted to keep the secret, even though Joel had just ruined it and the whole campus probably knew about the Baby Teimnydduus Freshman by now. Naughty Hottie did not appear to know and I didn’t want him to know.

“OK,” he replied, as if my refusing to enlighten him didn’t bother him in the slightest. Then he held out his hand. I stared. He moved his hand in a way that beckoned. He wanted me to take his hand. I reached out toward him, mesmerized somehow to obey. But then I hesitated, looking into his face for confirmation, explanation, or assurance that my hand would be returned to me at some point, whole and uninjured in any physical or spiritual way. He pulled that little gut-melting half-grin again and his eyes softened into a catastrophic mixture of beckoning and scolding. I slid my hand into his. He led me toward the “off campus” spot. And then he was there and I was not, looking back into campus again. Our hands had slipped apart in the blink of an eye.

He looked at me again, communicating with his eyes. (As I was quickly learning, he was Grand Master of Eye Communication.) This time, he approved of my impressive level of badness, seeing as even he was unable to thwart the “Capio” spell that was needed to contain naughty, naughty me. He was also ready to face the challenge again, because no spell designed to prevent rule-breaking was going to stop him.

A moment later he had returned to my enforced position and swept me up into his long, muscular arms. I rested in the “princess carry”, heart fluttering, as he walked me toward freedom. Then we were both back on campus, turned around.

“Who are you?” he asked in a sexy whisper. He didn’t put me down.

I was breathless and my brain had completed its evaporation. “…Colleen,” I whispered. His eyes reprimanded me (sexy!) and demanded more. I didn’t want to tell him, but I couldn’t help myself. “Colleen Underhill.”

One eyebrow lifted. In a lot of popular books I have read, people can either do this or can’t and it is a point of pride or shame for them. I have never met anyone who has any deep feelings whatsoever on the raising of eyebrows. You can or you can’t. So what?

Naughty Hotty could and, of course, it was dangerous and sexy. Even more dangerous and sexy, he looked me over like a tiger embracing a new kind of meat he might like to devour. “You’re the new one, aren’t you?” All I could do was nod (evaporated brain, remember?). “Mmmmm,” he said, which could be interpreted as “Mmmm, I see,” or as “Mmmmm, delicious.” My knees evaporated too, which was OK because he still held me in his arms.

“Well, Colleen Underhill, I’m London Vadoma.  Nice to meet you,” he purred. (Insert all previous sexy descriptions here.) Tracy’s high school that she went on and on about during my “orientation” was called “Vadoma High”. Weird!

“Mmmmm,” I replied, which could be interpreted as “Mmmmm, your wish is my command,” or “Mmmmm, take me, London Vadoma, I’m yours.” That little half-smile evaporated my internal organs.

Then he set me down. I was surprised I could still stand without my knees, but that must have worked because I was unburdened by the weight of my brain or internal organs.

“Yeah,” he decided, “I’m not really disappointed you’re stuck here. See ya!”  And with that, he sauntered away.

When he was out of my sight, my brain was the first to return, followed by my organs. That made me tipsy because the weight of my brain overset the hollowness of missing organs and no knees. Next, my heart appeared back inside my chest cavity well-chilled by the way-too-bad-for-Colleen-ness of London Vadoma. The appearance of my knees followed a little too far behind for comfort, but at least I didn’t fall down. Yes, Naughty Hottie London Vadoma was waaaaaay too dangerous for a little suburbanite Skupdyn like me. He was a guy to adore from afar. My brothers would be kicking his butt, possibly with pal backup, if not for supernatural intervention and the lie that I was in Maine. My dad would re-sharpen his knife collection if he even smelled London’s cologne near me.

I was late for class.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Post navigation

One thought on “The “ly” Check

  1. Pingback: More Things to Check! « Kate Policani

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: