This week’s video points out three reasons writers need to be even more dedicated in stamping out the dreaded adverb.
Perhaps the most famous condemnation of adverbs is Mark Twain’s, “If you see an adverb, kill it.” I’m going to take a wild guess and say that, right about now, you’re probably nodding your head in sage agreement. And, for the record, so am I. Off the record, I’m going to say ninety percent of authors would nod their heads. And yet, the adverb still lives!
I’m the first to admit the dreaded adverb still crops up in my work—both inadvertently and purposefully—just as I’m sure it shows up in yours. For that matter, it still makes frequent appearances even in the work of modern bestsellers. Most readers probably aren’t going to spot unnecessary adverbs and pick them out, but as authors, we get to be hyperaware of these things, for better or worse. For me today, it serves as a good opportunity for a reminder about just why it is Mark Twain has encouraged such hatred against the adverb.
Quickly, let’s just mention three reasons. 1) The unnecessary adverb is clunky. Saying a character spoke ponderously or slyly or hyperventilatingly is just awkward. It’s not the best way to use the language—particularly in association with dialogue, which should indicate these things within its own context. 2) The unnecessary adverb is deadweight. Every word counts. And adverbs can pile up fast. If a word doesn’t effectively advance the plot or increase reader understanding, it’s just going be a waste of space within the book. You’d be surprised how sleek and slim your manuscript can end up after cutting a couple thousand unneeded adverbs. And, finally, 3) the unnecessary adverb is a mistake just waiting to be pointed out by all those hordes of hyperaware fellow authors.
Thumbnail – Screen Capture From Video
Originally published on Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors