Killing Me Softly With Adverbs

Today, I want to discuss a pet peeve–adverbs. When I find adverbs propping up weak verbs in the indie stories I read, it makes me want to sit down with the author for a chat. Here’s what I’d say: find your adverbs and get rid of them. Then replace the weak verbs with stronger ones. Your readers will thank you. Let’s look at some examples:

Bad: He walked slowly home. Better: He ambled home.

Bad: Gandalf gently threw a spell at the orc. Better: Gandalf tossed a spell at the orc.

Bad: Harry spoke softly to Ron. Better: Harry whispered to Ron.

Adverbs are tenacious. They find their way even into my rough drafts. But many adverbs end in “-ly”, so I use Word’s search function to find “-ly” words and repair the adverb damage. Even a master storyteller warns us:

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. – Stephen King, On Writing

Please write cautiously, craftily, and responsibly. (See? icky!)

8 thoughts on “Killing Me Softly With Adverbs

  1. Bridget Bowers

    I’m very guilty of this myself. I am now working on finding a better way to show with stronger words what I’m writing. I think it’s a rule we all need to remind ourselves of constantly….er well, you know what I mean.

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    Reply
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