To Adverb Or Not To Adverb?

adverbsI do a lot of critiques for different writers during the week. Some of the writers are very polished; others, not so much.

The one thing I’ve noticed in all levels, is an abundance of adverbs. I must admit, I get jealous at how prettified some of those sentences read. I can’t write like that. My brain isn’t wired that way.

According to William Noble, many inexperienced writers, and I will add unpublished- but have been around the block a few times writers, throw in “pretty” words(adverbs or adjectives) to make their prose more dramatic and meaningful. These cosmetic touch-ups often turn out to be  redundant or simply uninspiring.

Adverbs bog down your story without adding meaning.

He zoomed around the oval speedily.-Is it possible to zoom without speeding?

He stuttered haltingly.-Can you stutter without doing it haltingly?

Adverbs tell/ You want to show  Adverbs encourage lazy writing.

He whispered to her lovingly. (Telling)

He whispered words of love…my sweet, dear lover, my angel…(Showing)

Remember, there are better ways to prettify your prose and using adverbs isn’t one of them. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Start showing not telling.

Adverbs are a dumping ground. Adverbs can be a way of dropping in that really fancy word that the writer wanted to use, but we all know should have been left undone.

“I’ll give you a hint,” she replied uxoriously.

“I don’t get it,” he responded zealously.

Adverbs get lost. Literally! Truly! Actually they do. We use them so often that we don’t even notice them, until somebody points it out.

I am not a NEVER ADVERBS person. Sometimes they are necessary to provide detail or clarity.

The man sang loudly.

The girl was really cute.

What’s wrong with Adverbs? Nothing as long as you don’t abuse them.

-Jan R

To Adverb Or Not To Adverb?

7 thoughts on “To Adverb Or Not To Adverb?

  1. Moderation in all things, even in ‘show don’t tell’. The last thing I want to read in the middle of a gripping scene is a blow by blow description of a character walking through the door, reaching into his/her pocket, drawing out a gun, putting his/her finger on the trigger and… Please, just shoot the damn thing!

    Liked by 1 person

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