Saturday, April 1, 2017

A to Z: Adverb Elimiation

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

We'll launch into April with one of the big "Rules" that people like to throw around.

Kill all the Adverbs!

What's with all the hate? Well, in many cases, the overuse of adverbs means lazy writing. It's the difference between:
John walked slowly.
John dragged his feet along the sidewalk with the enthusiasm of a drowsy tortoise.
One tells you that he walked slowly. The other shows you.

My general rule is if there's a stronger way to portray what the adverb is saying then it should be eliminated and the sentence rewritten.

When should the adverb remain?
- When avoiding the adverb makes the sentence awkward or disrupts the rhythm/flow.
- When it feels unnatural to avoid them.
- You know what, sometimes John is really just walking slowly and the word count is tight, and dammit, that's what I mean to say.

What are your thoughts on adverbs?


  1. Hi Jean - there will be some good lessons here ... I'm pretty hopeless at grammar, though seem to be able to write - how: I've never quite worked out!! Keeping things relatively simple is best - easier for one and all ... then we can enhance as our work gets more accepted. Cheers Hilary

    A for Aurochs

    Today’s A - Z Challenge 2017 post

  2. Love your example! Very descriptive.

  3. I think the same as you. A blanket rule to ban them all would be really bad! There you go - "really" is one of the most helpful and common words and it's an adverb. It also tends to slip in easily.

  4. Adverbs definitely have their place, the trick is to treat them with caution and always question whether they are really needed.

  5. Hello, fellow A-to-Zer! You... you have just showed us why adverbs are so reviled. Instead of just telling us. Thank you! Admirably clear.
    -Melanie Atherton Allen

  6. I love the example. Makes it perfectly clear. Or as clear as Orion´s belt on a clear night. Ugh, I am a newbie at this whole writing thing. :)

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador

  7. I hear the road to hell is paved with adverbs, but it's nice to hear someone say sometimes an adverb is welcome. Thank you! Kinda like passive voice. Sometimes, it's the right choice.

    Keep editing, Jean! And keep bringing us this good advice!

  8. Oof, I'm going to be following your AtoZ closely, I need all the editing advice I can get! Great topic!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | AtoZ 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms

  9. hahaa...that is a good one! I always do wonder why some authors go on and on about the obvious!
    Welcome to AtoZ :)
    "*Ishieta @ Isheeria's*

    AtoZofHealing - A is for Affirmations"

  10. It seems hard to eliminate adverbs without destroying the meaning they convey. I'm working a on my memoir and have found myself using "eventually" a lot.


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