18 December 2006

Why I Dislike the Word "Excitedly"

I always cross out "excitedly" when I'm giving writing-group colleagues the benefit of my opinion on their manuscripts. I did so today, which is why this weighs so mightily on my mind.

It's not just because "excitedly" is an adverb. Though some writers tend to overuse adverbs out of laziness or nervousness, that part of speech can often be useful.

Rather, my dislike stems from two traits specific to "excitedly" itself. One is the construction of the word: an adverb built on a past participle born from a verb, one prefix and two suffixes stuck onto a root with their consonant edges bumping. The word looks and sounds like an architectural mess.

The second reason is that "excitedly" is almost always unnecessary. Excitement is usually apparent through action, dialogue, facial expression. It's not one of our more subtle emotions that might need spelling out for readers. And we even have a punctuation mark whose sole function (outside of mathematics) is to show excitement!

So I shall continue to mark excitedly in 'most every manuscript I get.

No comments: