Why it’s good to avoid adverbs
On May 21, 2018 | 0 Comments | Writing tips |

One function of adverbs is to modify adjectives, in other words to describe something that already describes something. That alone should give you an idea of how necessary – or unnecessary – they are when used for this purpose.

For example:

  • He drives really fast.
  • She is very happy.
  • We are super glad to be here.

While the above sentences are fine in conversation, in written form they come across as uncreative, maybe even bland. Astute readers view using adverbs as lazy writing, so it’s good to avoid them as best you can.

When I catch myself using an adverb to describe an adjective because the adjective doesn’t sound right by itself, I try to come up with a more descriptive adjective or an analogy.

For example:

Instead of:

  • He drives really fast.

Change to:

  • He drives as if he were on the Autobahn.

Instead of:

  • She is very happy.

Change to::

  • She is ecstatic.

Instead of:

  • We are super glad to be here.

Change to:

  • We are thrilled to be here.

Another way to get around using adverbs is to include a beat (description of an action) that shows the reader what the adverb was meant to convey.

For example:

Instead of:

  • “Do we have to go in there?” Gloria asked nervously.

Change to:

  • Tiny beads of sweat broke out on Gloria’s forehead. “Do we have to go in there?” she asked.

Instead of:

  • “It looks like we didn’t get the contract,” David said glumly.

Change to:

  • David’s face fell. “It looks we didn’t get the contract.”

Do you see the difference? It’s not that using adverbs is grammatically wrong, rather that writing that doesn’t include a ton of them is more original and engaging. And if your readers find your writing original and engaging, you are doing something right.

-Maria

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2018 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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