To use or not to use adverbs is one big controversy in the writing world. The rule is to use them sparingly if at all.
I loved using adverbs because they were convenient, but as I started understudy on how to write professionally it was challenging to learn how not to make the mistake of the constant use of adverbs.
I still get tempted to – by the force of habit – but with consistent practice, it gets better.
Why Cut Adverbs?
- Adverbs are weak. Remember the show don’t tell rule.
- They make writing sound lazy and amateurish.
- Cutting adverbs makes you more imaginative as a writer. You expand your search for other descriptions for what you want to say.
- Adverbs create redundant words.
- They clutter your writing and makes it vague.
- Adverbs interrupt the flow of action.
A good old plain ‘she said or he said’ is better than too many superfluous and dramatic adverbs.
‘Why the hell did you do say that!’ he said angrily
‘Get away from me right now!’ she yelled loudly
Would read better as:
‘Why the hell did you say that!’ he said.
‘Get way from me right now!’ she yelled.
Those adverbs are not necessary because their emotions are already expressed in their words. We already know that they are angry.
Sometimes less is more. Too many adverbs weaken a prose and subverting them creates more vivid writing.
There are instances where using adverb is necessary, such as writing suspense when the character’s action is paramount to the story.
He lightly tiptoed to the door. What if the use of ‘light tiptoe’ is used to anticipate fear or the expectation of an action? This adverb is there to create apprehension in the reader – it serves a purpose being there and not a redundant word.
Cutting adverbs will help you find the balance between overwriting and a good show and tell writing.
Do you use adverbs? Please share in the comments. For Essential Writers’ Tips check this link.
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