One of the key pieces of advice often given to writers is to cut down on your use of ‘-ly’ words. They tend to slow pace and add to your word count. A good way to gauge the necessity of these words is to delete them and see if it makes any difference. They’re pretty superfluous most of the time and tend to bulk out writing. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be used at all, just sparingly.

A quick example –

John pulled the stupendously heavy gun from his massively shiny holster rapidly and pointed it at the slowly moving fox.

John pulled the heavy gun from his holster and pointed it at the moving fox.

I said it was a quick example not a good one!

So, I, like many of you, use Microsoft Word to write in. There are many other programs out there and I’ve tried many of them but for most of my work I open up Word for two reasons – it’s a clean environment for writing in and it has the functionality I require. In addition it’s universally used and so i’ts a better tool to use if you’re looking for formatting tips – especially if you’re self-publishing.

I struggle with editing my work. It’s a long drawn out process which I’ve spoken about before. To help others with my issues (my issues with editing- this is not the place for the listing of my many other issues) I plan to give you a series of little tips that I’ve found helpful.

The first is Word’s ability to search out those pesky adverbs that are clogging up my writing. I don’t use as many as I used to but there’s always a few that slip through the net. 100,000 words is a lot to check through and as my editing list is long enough I like to take a shot at getting rid of as many of them as possible early in the process.

So, the fastest way to check for them is to use the ‘find’ function. You’re probably familiar with it but just in case –

On the home menu there’s an icon showing a little pair of binoculars with the word ‘find’ – it’s a good clue. You can also just hit ‘Ctrl-F’ – If you can’t find the find function then welcome to irony.

Now you can find names of characters etc. which is very helpful but, you can also search for suffixes.

In the box that pops up click the little ‘more>’ button. Select the box for suffixes and type ‘ly’ into the search term.

Now you can rapidly search through your entire WIP and find those pesky ‘-ly’ words adding more punch to your writing with the speed of a…okay it’s not lightning but I found it pretty helpful.