Adverbs Burned My Village!

“Adverbs burned my village!”

That’s what author Gregory S. Close once said to me, his joking way of explaining his campaign to eradicate adverbs from his own writing at any cost.

Effortlessly paled and backed away at the sight of Adverb’s Bane. She had escaped the pogroms, the culling, the scourges, and the bloody brutal murders over the years – but now she saw her doom reflected on the gleaming blade. She could only hope her children, Luckily and Haltingly, would fare better. She closed her eyes, and it was all over… .”


(I seem to recall responding with, “Get over it, already. Humans burned Raven’s village when he was a youngster, and you don’t see him going around hating humans now, do you?” I would like to think that I have convinced Mr. Close that some adverbs can be good neighbors and are rather nice to have around.)

I have never understood the constant shouting that the use of adverbs is always Bad Writing. I have reached the conclusion in recent months that it started with someone too lazy to teach how to choose when to use adverbs and when not to; it was easier to simply say, “Never use adverbs!” (Laugh at the irony: never IS an adverb.) While it is true that some people rely too much on adverbs, adding one at the end of every frakkin’ dialogue tag (which, by the way, will make your editor throw the manuscript across the room in frustration — no mean feat when the manuscript is electronic), that is no reason to insist that they be deleted from the language. Baby with the bathwater, and all that.


About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have eight cats. I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to Adverbs Burned My Village!

  1. janet565 says:

    When I was learning how to write for publication some years back, I heard a story about a critique group that made members put $5 in the pot for every adverb used in a manuscript. Concluding that adverbs must be bad, I avoided them in my prose and suggested rephrasing when adverbs appeared in the manuscripts of my other critique group members. Now I write a blog, and (guiltily) allow the adverbs to slide in where they may. Thanks for pointing out that adverbs, when used in moderation, don’t have to be edited off the page.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Part of the problem with telling writers to avoid all adverbs is that there are MANY adverbs that aren’t even recognized as such: Don’t use adverbs at all, Mr. High-and-Mighty Big-Name Author? Really? How many times do you use the word “not” in a typical 1000-word sample? *wicked grin* The “NEVER use adverbs!” crowd cannot even follow their own rule.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Adverbs are the “garlic” of writing – a smidgen is all you need.

    Liked by 1 person

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