How Not To Kill Sentences With Adverbs

Blog Graphic with a woman writing , and Those Deadly Words written on it

How would you like your coffee made…quickly or in a jiffy?

But I’m sure you would like to drink it slowly err… savour every sip to the last!

There you have it- those deadLY words that turn your awesome story into mundane chatter.

Stories struggle, not always because they are not good, but often because they are lost in the transition from imagination to ink. They lose impact because the words that carry them are too many, or the wrong ones, or the right ones placed wrongly.

No one is born perfect. Some of us just decide not to stay that way.

Nothing can make up for continuous improvement in grammar and writing techniques on the part of the writer. Varied and judicious use of different parts of speech can add flair to your creations and every trick and word is there to be used. Adverbs too have a function and reason to exist, and it would be foolish to remove them from your writing altogether. However, too much of a good thing can be, well, just too much.

This is beautifully illustrated by the words of the master-craftsman Stephen King

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s—GASP!!—too late.”

― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

So, how to go about removing these offenders from your work?

One way is to make sure that you don’t need to say “he spoke timidly”. The scene should tell the reader that he is timid and his words “the room is too dark!” should tell you that he was scared to go inside. The context here is paramount. You can read more on how to eliminate adverbs here.

Another important tool is to use stronger, more expressive words in place of an adverb. You can always cuddle instead of holding lovingly or grumble rather than talk irritably. This article on ways to reduce adverb abuse has a great list of words that you can use instead of adverbs.

What are your favourite ways to write better? Share your tips and tricks, I would love to hear all about your secret weapons!

Right now, I’m off to try and put this into practice and see if I can take my words a notch or two above the ordinary. Until then, Happy Writing!


Image used in the graphic by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay 


POEMITAS: A book of short poems, a celebration of my journey online

It is five years since I came online!

Five long years… five short years… and it has not been all poetry. A lot has happened since that day when I was going through a lean phase and my daughter told me, “You need to start a blog and touch lives”. That somehow felt like the direction I had been waiting for all my life. And so began my meandering journey…

I had never been on any social media though I knew of them, and I didn’t really know what a blog was. So I began to search Google, learnt about blogs, about social media, and lots of other stuff in between. I was not ready to open up to the world and I decided to adopt a pen name. A long search and introspection later Manic Sylph was born- an oxymoron like me and an expression of what I was without saying who.

Something told me to dream big and I joined all the major social media platforms, though I hardly knew what to do with any of them, and started writing my first blog called A Gypsy At Heart. I soon realised that I needed a social media platform to promote the blog and made Google Plus my home. A bit of poetry began to come up in my writing and with the encouragement of a few poet friends, I eventually gravitated to writing poetry as my preferred form of expression. One by one, I started learning the ropes of the various social platforms and spread my wings, and here I am now, this website here my latest baby.

All this still seems like a dream at times, a beautiful dream that I never want to wake up from. This would never have been possible without the support and love I was given by the online community. I have found hundreds of lovely people here, some have become friends for a lifetime, hopefully. And what better way to thank each beautiful heart and soul than with something that I consider a part of me…my poetry!

Book Cover of ebook POEMITAS by Mona Soorma
POEMITAS: A collection of short poems

As a special gift for my wonderful online family, I have compiled some of my short poems into an eBook called POEMITAS. Well, 130 poems to be exact, some of them have been posted online, some not, but all of them a labour of my love. This book is not for sale anywhere and is meant exclusively as a free gift for you, my readers and friends on my website and other social pages. If my words can find a home in your hearts, it would be a gift that I would cherish.

You can get your copy of POEMITAS here. I hope you will enjoy reading it. Don’t forget to get back to me and tell me all about it! I’m looking forward to hearing from you…

Let’s have an ‘AHA MOMENT’- Build A New Word

brain cartoon
‘Aha Moment!”

Sometimes, inspiration strikes. Sometimes, we poke and prod at our brains to produce that spark. Whatever. The result is gratifying, though.

Often, as writers, or even otherwise in the course of our daily living, we do find ourselves wishing for words to aptly explain what we are feeling. I personally do keep groping for enough words to put my thoughts on paper, or rather, shall I say, on my word document! It has been a long while since I wrote anything much on paper. It is beginning to seem like a lost art to me, but writing on digital machines is what I prefer now.

However, that is not the point here at all. Let me get back to my original train of thought…the lack of enough words. I got to thinking about it when I was reading the comments of my friends scottfw and Shantanu Baruah on my Word Of The Day~Eucatastrophe post this Wednesday. If Tolkien can build words, why can’t we! After all, the language lives and flourishes because of its users who continually adapt it to the times.

So let’s get going! I invite every one of you to join in with a word you have created to speak your heart out, or many if you so desire! Build from scratch, mix words, borrow a little from another language… the possibilities are endless.

woman working on a computer
Building New Words… Oh! What fun!

Let’s write our own CREATIONARY, well, here is one word we already have to begin with (create+dictionary for anyone who might have missed it). Post your ideas in the comments and we can list them all up here as they come in. How many words can we gather… infinite, I hope! I would certainly love to use some crazy, funny, expressive words in my writing. This new resource could be a lot of fun! Just remember to credit the person whose words you use, I’m sure they would love the appreciation.

Here’s my word for today-

FLUTTERHUG: When someone’s words caress you like a hug that causes flutters in your being.

And of course,
CREATIONARY:  Our very own dictionary of newly created words.

What’s yours?

HOPELICIOUS: Hope which is delicious ( From Shantanu Baruah)

QUART: Quickly Start (From Ridhima)


Thank you very much for your contribution. Keep sending in your words…


Images by André Santana and GraphicMama-team from Pixabay 

Celebrating Poets – I SEE THE STARS IN YOU (a tribute to poets of Google Plus)

A very Happy Easter to you all! May the Risen Lord bring many blessings, peace and joy in your life.

Are enjoying your egg hunt? Hey! I’m a good egg too… and poetic as well… I hope someone is looking for me 😜

Easter eggs decorated as people
Happy Easter Day!

This day is blessed and very special, so I decided to dedicate today to all the poets who were my friends, and inspiration when I first came online with a blog called A Gypsy At Heart. It was not a poetry blog but more of inspirational and motivational write-ups with a couple of poems thrown in at times. Slowly, I began to build up a following on Google plus, and came into contact with some wonderful poets… it was perhaps destiny that I eventually began to write poetry as the chosen way of spilling my soul. That blog is still online to read though I do not add to it anymore.

I have come a long way from that day in the last week of April 2014 when I became Manic Sylph to send my first words out into the online world, and I am grateful and indebted to all those wonderful people who taught me so much, who stood by me in good times and bad, and many became lifelong friends.

Alas, with the end of Google Plus on 2nd April, as one of my favourite people on G+ put it, an era came to an end. Many of those poets have gone on to various other social networks, but the beautiful circle has been broken and there are many who have chosen to bow out without a trace. I dedicate today’s post on Celebrating Poets to all those awesome dream weavers and rhyme makers who make the world a better place just by being in it.

For today… a poem that I wrote for my best friend on G+ that I now dedicate to all the poets of Google Plus. I hope you enjoy this old one. This is not my best effort but has a lot of beautiful memories attached to it. I send all my best wishes to them, wherever they are…

Poem by Mona Soorma aka Manic Sylph written on backround of night sky
I See The Stars In You



#Google Plus


Image of Easter Eggs by Iva Balk from Pixabay 




“It has been said that art is a tryst;
for in the joy of it, maker and beholder meet.”
― Kojiro Tomita

Poetry is a very personal thing. It becomes a thing of beauty only in the eyes of the beholder. No two eyes see the same thing in the same way, and that is true for art as well. What I like might not touch your heart at all and I might be totally indifferent to what makes your heart sing.

So, what is good poetry?

Now, here is the catch. Most people, when asked to name their favourite artist, poet, writer, will always spout the names that sound like the latest edition of “who is who”. Are we scared to show our own choices to the world? Do we even have our own choices? Why do we assume that the writings that have been labelled as “classics” are the only ones we should quote? Does a poet become admirable a hundred years after he passed away? Does not publishing your poem in paperback by a big publishing house make it unworthy?

While reviewing a poetry book by Mark Kloss, I read this on his website that got me thinking.

Why when a book is made up of our favourite poems are the majority made up from ages past? Why when asked to remember your favourite poem do you mostly think of an earlier classic? 
Mark Kloss

Since then, I have been wanting to put these question to the world to answer. I want to ask you what, in your opinion, makes a poem worthy of your love and attention. I want to know if there’s a criterion that a poem must pass to be able to touch your heart.

Love classics, by all means. They are great works of art that have been a source of joy for millions over the years. But give all art its due, be it poetry, painting, stories, photography, or any other form of creative expression. judge a poem by how it makes you feel, not by the name inscribed at the bottom.

For me, the greatest impact on my life and poetry has been by some of the poets I have read online. I love Maya Angelou and William Wordsworth and Pablo Neruda, but I love Ink Stitution, Joe Barca, Fiery, Erin Hanson and Darren Wilson more. My favourite stories come from Robin Cook and Scott Wood. I accept that I would prefer to read Owain Glyn’s book more than Lord Byron’s because that is more my cup of tea. This list is not exhaustive, neither is this a shout-out post. I am not naming my friends. In fact, most of the ones I have named don’t read my blog and will never know about it, and that’s how I want it. Consider it more like-
“Did you listen to the latest song by LP? It is fabulous!”
“No, but I will today. Thanks for letting me know.”

So tell me who your favourite poets and writers are. Name the well known, or the unknown, or mix up the two, but be honest about it. Or talk about your favourite poem. Let us honour the words that have touched our hearts, no holds barred!

To all my favourite poets online

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
Pablo Neruda


You Make Me Spill My Ink

She asked me if she could use my title for a poem, and what a poem she wrote! It is so beautiful to be able to inspire such works of art. Thank you, Fiery, for adding your amazing craftsmanship to my words.

Silently Smouldering Words

Say too much? I prob’ly do

Or not enough? I do that too.

Too many Love Yous?

That’s my way.

Still though, I stifle what I say. 

Floodgates open, out they pour

My words t’wards you

They’ve stained the floor

You think you know? 

My Love…you don’t

Reveal My All right now? I won’t…

My verses seek to stroke your mind

These Head Screams cry ’til you they find. 

My lips like bitten fruit they bleed

But fail to vocalise my need

With scarlet drops of secrets kept

I write the rhymes my past pain wept  

And so to pen and paper dreams

I scribble Love and Want.  It seems

This stream of endless poetry

A semblance of your Perfect Me

And Sorry I will never say

This part of me I hide away

For fear of blinding you with light

As Truth and Fear my Heart/Soul fight.

Yet tenderness…

View original post 210 more words

THE TOP SPOT an’ I’m Lovin’ it!

I’m on the top of the world la la lalala lalalala…

Remember this beautiful oldie by Carpenters? I love that song, but that’s not the only reason why I am singing it. My book “Breathless” came up for pre-order a few days ago, ready to be launched on 21st January.

“Breathless” was supposed to be my first book, but something kept coming up, and it ended up being my fifth. Perhaps it was prudently waiting for the right time, while I was foolishly trying to hurry it up because it seems it had its own ideas about being the first. YES! Soon after it showed up on Amazon, it went straight to the #1 New Release spot and it is still sitting pretty on its throne, wearing a tangerine sash…I am delirious with joy and a million other feelings!!

Screenshot of the book Breathless showing #1New Release tag on Amazon

I am grateful to God for giving me this very beautiful New Year’s gift, and my heartfelt thanks to all my supporters, readers and followers who made this happen.

Love you all!

You can preorder “Breathless” now on Amazon and Google Play at a fabulous discounted price. Paperback version will be launched on 21st January along with the delivery of the pre-order eBook.

The Perks Of Being A WRITER

Writing is a tough job!

Well, not the writing part. That, as I often say, is easy. It is the rest of it, especially when you are an indie writer, that really ties you up in knots. Being a wife and a mom is already a full-time job. So is trying to be the editor, designer, and marketing guy for your book, all rolled into one. Another one is being your own social media manager, somehow trying to make sure posts are up regularly on all your media pages, the comments are being answered, and those who support you are being supported in return. Add to it keeping your website up to date, making sure the blog is running, and on and on…
I know a writer would understand the dilemmas of what to do and what to give up.


At times I wonder where the poet in me has gone. It is a matter of finding the small bits of unclaimed time in the day and hope that the muse is ready to roll at short notice! As my writer friend Scott said to me, it would be nice if we could have a few clones to help our main personality. I am all for it. Incidentally, Scott is a genius at what he does, which is a lot many things when he can, and writing a wonderful Sci-fi novel is one of them. He would know about clones now, wouldn’t he!

Sometimes, I miss the days when I had more friends than followers and just one social media page on which I wrote my poetry. But that said, I am certainly not ready to go back there. I believe in never looking back, even at the good times, because what is coming is always a blessing. I am not where I need to be, but I am getting there. And as I said, being a writer has its perks. It is the love of the readers that make every bit of the struggle worthwhile. All the beautiful things that people say…those people whose hearts I managed to touch, somehow…they keep me going.

A while ago, I got a note from a beautiful soul, showing me the purchase notification of my eBook. Now, why is that so special? That person, who had already read a free copy of the book, had waited months to be able to buy a one-dollar book, just to support my writing. That brought tears to my eyes. It is never about the money, but about how they give you a place in their hearts and lives. That is precious beyond compare!

I would love to link back to that awesome person but it would not be fair to encroach on someone’s privacy, so my reader friend stays in my heart and prayers.

DON’T BE A GOOD WRITER- Be The Best There Is

So you love words.

I do too, as every writer should. Writing, at least all good writing, is and should be, a labour of love. That is the difference between making the reader read and enjoy, and making the reader laugh and cry with you. That’s what I have always wanted to do with my poetry…make the reader feel. But, am I succeeding in this? That’s for the readers to say.

There are as many ways of writing, as there are writers. This is an art. There’s nothing right or wrong here, only what works for you and what doesn’t. We all have our own writing rituals. What are yours? Do you like to write in the day, or are you a night owl? Do you write all at once, without thinking deliberately, letting the muse take over, or do you meticulously plot each sentence?

As for me, I am a very erratic writer. I know… Writing Rule #1  Write Every Day. 

Now you must be wondering why am I talking at cross purposes. Actually, I am not. I fully agree with the merit of this, and a lot many other writing rules that you would find in other books and articles, both online and offline. As a writer, you must know all the rules. And not just know, you must also try out each one. Of course, you will find some of them making a huge difference to your writing, and some not. Still, know them all, and then dare to break them.

If you need some help with the rules, here is an excellent post about What Makes A Great Writer from Leonard Tillerman

I’m sure someone is going to come at me with a broom and beat me up about all the nonsense that I am talking. But that’s the whole point! What I want to say is, dare to be different, not just for the sake of being different, but for the sake of being true to your soul. Write, to give voice to your truth, not just to create a story. Don’t create characters, become them. Don’t aim to make the readers sympathise with your characters and their story. Force them, even against their will at times, to live their lives. And that can be done, only if the writing comes from deep within you. 

Let me tell you this- there is no greater pleasure for me than when someone writes back to say they could feel my poem as if it was about them, that my words were just what they needed at that moment. That is when I feel like I am on the right path. If my words can become the voice of another heart, I count it as a success story.  

What works best for me is to flow with the feelings, when they come. I rarely enter any competitions. I almost never write on prompts. The reason: I have made a pact with myself to write only when I cannot “not write. I agree with Robert Frost here, when he says “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader…” You’ve got to give it your all. You’ve got to bleed to make the reader cry. And that reminds me of another of my favourite quotes, but you will have to read it on my Home Page

I am also a morning writer. I love the dawns and the peace and quiet it brings. I love the stillness that is not quite still, that is teeming with the hope of a new birth, that of the day in the making. In fact, my entire book “You Make Me Spill My Ink” has been written in the moments of pre-dawn. Now, you might be a night person, so stay up when the world falls asleep, and let your muse work its magic. Or, you might be stimulated by the sounds of nature, or perhaps, even the bustling city sounds…well, to each his own. Do what you must, to get the creative juices flowing. 

That was all about the easy part. Easy!! Yes, easyNow the difficult part… 

You’ve got your awesome content written, but that is going to get lost in the sea of words. To rise above the competition, you need to polish your writing. Edit, edit, and edit again. Be ruthless. Don’t be tempted to write every little thing. Leave something for the imagination of the reader. The reader is an intelligent creative person in his or her own right. He is not a fool. Suggest, and he will not just follow, but be there ahead of you. Make sure your grammar is perfect, and your poem or story or novel, or whatever else you are writing, is free of typos. Don’t make them mentally put red circles all over your story. 

Need some help with editing? Check out this Pro Writing Aid here. This has a free version as well that you can find at the end of the page.

Here is a list of tools and resources that could be very useful for writers. 

You might also find this blog called Daily Writing Tips very useful.  

What are your favourite writing tools? Talk about them so we can share it with the writing world. You may use the comments box below or email me at 

Lastly, but certainly not in any way unimportant is to read. Be a voracious reader. Read not only the known writers but the little-known ones, the indie writers, the blogs, the newspapers, books of your chosen genre, and of the others. That’s where you learn what to be and what not to be. It’s a beautiful world out there for the writers, go on, become the best, and then go beyond. The sky is not the limit!

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