Authors Answer 126 – Is It Really Possible to Stop Using Adverbs?

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Adverbs are something that people love to use in everyday speech. It’s very popular. But what about in writing? Do we really need to avoid using adverbs? Honestly?

Question 126 – Never use adverbs. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Disagree. I will concur that many writers these days rely far too heavily on adverbs, leaning on them instead of putting the effort into creating more descriptive prose. That said, every form of word has it’s place, and you can’t just discount adverbs all together. “Show, don’t tell,” is what’s often said, and I agree with that for the most part, but sometimes what is necessary for a scene is for the author to tell the reader exactly what’s happening. For example, if the narrating character has been struck blind for some reason, they’re not going to be able to describe the facial expressions or body…

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived 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 six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") 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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One Response to Authors Answer 126 – Is It Really Possible to Stop Using Adverbs?

  1. curioushart says:

    “If an adverb became a character in one of my novels, I’d have it shot. Immediately.”

    *Elmore Leonard*

    What is so deliciously funny about this statement is how much it is helped by an adverb. Leave it off and the sentence loses its determination. To appreciate the power of the adverb, change it to another adverb. “Eventually.” “Cheerfully.” “Reluctantly.” Each adverb changes the tone of the sentence. Each one helps the sentence in its own unique way. That’s what adverbs are; they are helping words – words that modify verbs (at least that is what I was taught in elementary school.)

    There are a number of articles and books on writing that express varying opinions on adverbs; most agree that they should be used – dare I say it – rarely. Really, without a handy adverb, how else could one write that one should not use adverbs very often…a lot…ever. No matter how I try, the verb “use” needs the help of an adverb unless I go the way of Elmore Leonard and write it out of existence.

    On Fri, Mar 31, 2017 at 11:41 PM, North of Andover wrote:

    > Thomas Weaver posted: ” ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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