The Adverb Problem and Why Authors Should Care

Here’s an article about an old controversy: to adverb or not to adverb. My thoughts on this issue:

I agree with one of the comments in the original post that a blanket ban on adverbs is unworkable. In the sentence “After I had breakfast, I went to the store” (okay, it’s not literature), the first dependent clause, “After I had breakfast,” is an adverbial clause. Anything that fleshes out where, when, why, or how may well be adverbial. To ban adverbs completely would be to impoverish a piece of writing beyond recognition. Does “completely” in that sentence add anything? It does add emphasis. Whether it should be cut is a judgment call.
I do agree that it’s better to find the precise verb that does the work rather than to tack an adverb onto a weak verb. Sometimes that can be tricky, though. “He closed the door firmly” conveys an intentionality that ‘He closed the door” does not. “He slammed the door” won’t work. “He jerked the door shut” might work to replace “firmly.” It can take a long time for the word that works best to float up (and “best” is an adverb in that sentence). Finding the word that Mark Twain compared to lightning rather than the lightning bug should always be the goal, IMHO.

What’s your take on adverbs—the “ly” kind and its sometimes (adverb) invisible brethren?

A Writer's Path

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by Gary Smailes

In this article I will set out to explain why so many famous authors (Stephen King being perhaps the most vocal) warn other authors against the use of adverbs. In fact, King’s hatred of adverbs is so intense that he’s been quoted as saying, “Adverbs are evil.” You will discover the role of adverbs in fiction writing, and I’ll demonstrate why removing adverbs from your writing will make your book more enjoyable to read. In short, I’ll explain just why adverbs are evil.

View original post 2,700 more words

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Filed under correct grammar, Editing, grammar, grammar rules, Myths and Truths, self editing, style, Writing

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