Do Writers Need to Avoid Adverbs?
If you’ve taken creative writing workshops, then you’ve probably been told that adverbs are frowned upon. Even celebrated authors like Stephen King hold a grudge against adverbs. But does this mean writers should avoid adverbs like the plague? The answer is a little complicated. In fact, while you could use adverbs sometimes, ninety-five percent of the time you should avoid them.
As a writer with over a decade of writing experience, I can say that there is a time to use adverbs. However, the story should never run wild with them. What I mean is, adverbs can be useful to a story. Yet too much of them can decrease their value. Plus, the more adverbs you use the less you immerse the reader in the action.
For example, what do you feel when you read the following sentence? “I was fiercely happy.” This sentence has one adverb, and that adverb does not show the amount of happiness experienced. It simply tells that the person experienced some great happiness. Removing the adverb and rewriting the sentence with a better description would elevate the sentence. For instance, it could become “My heart pounded in my ears. I jumped up and down, feeling like an overjoyed lunatic.” This sentence shows so much more emotion, and it just has more flair than the sentence with the lazy adverb.
Basically, writers should not rely on adverbs to express emotions or show details. Nevertheless, the occasional adverb is fine, especially when your intent is to summarize a scene. If you stumble upon a novel with a crazy amount of adverbs, usually that novel is of a poor writing quality. So avoid adverbs in your own work and you’ll be fine.
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