Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Sin of the Adverb

If you've been writing or pursing articles on writing for any length of time then you've probably heard all about the avoidance of adverbs. But why are they so bad? They're great in a pinch and they seem to convey just the thing you want to describe. But in reality they convey very little in terms of description.

Don't get me wrong, I love using a good adverb when writing as much as the next person, but going back I always see how it weakens the story.

Let's look at two examples of sentences to prove a point.

"Alisha stepped onto the slippery ice and nearly fell over."

"Alisha stepped onto the ice and lost her footing, one leg sprawled right while the other twisted left. She shot  her arms out to her sides to gain balance and just avoided a pathetic flop onto her rear."

The first sentence is okay. You know what's going on, but what does it really say? To me 'nearly' is the worst of the adverb sins becasue you don't always know what the something is that almost happened but didn't. You can see from the second sentence how much more visual your writing can be without the adverb.


Here's a challenge for you, don't use adverbs for one week. I mean Everywhere. Every time you're itching to write that 'ly' stop yourself. In your blog posts, in your short stories, and in your novels. Come out the other end and see if it doesn't make you a better writer.

I've been practicing this with my novel, but I'm going to bring it here now too. So if you see an adverb feel free to point it out, becasue we all want to be better writers.

What is your biggest writing pet peeve?
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