The Unholy Adverb Is A Fucking Menace

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“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” – Stephen King

Call me batshit crazy, but I agree.

Well, most of the time.

“In writing, the adverb is like sugar. You know it’s not good. You need to stay away, but it’s addicting.” – Me sometime in 2013

I’ve been all over the place with the adverb in writing.

I’m guilty. I’ve done it.

*hangs head. lowers sight-gazers. kicks at the ground. admits truth*

I’VE USED ADVERBS.

Happy?

We’ve all done it. When we fall back on it as a fail safe, that’s when we need to say, “Shit, there’s a better way to write this.”

Always is.

But, I’ve been on a rant as of late for my hate of adverbs in fiction.

Sure, I’m guilty as the next writer who used adverbs in that one piece that one time.

And sure, I have to catch myself from using the fuckwit adverb and go a different direction and actually write.

And sure, sure, using adverbs is the easy way out. It’s also cheapening your work and steals from your audience, the reader. So there’s that.

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THE RULES ARE, THERE ARE NO RULES. PERIOD.

But, do ask yourself a few questions when you reach for a cupful of adverb:

1. Will The Reader SEE What It Is That I Want Them To See?

She looked annoyingly at the man.  – What’s an annoying look?

How about: Her bitchface was on. He saw it. He wanted to leave.

2. Will The Reader FEEL The Intended Emotion That I’m Trying To Convey?

The man threw himself heartily into his work for the day. – What’s heartily feel like?

How about: The man had gusto and enthusiasm for his job and got right to work.

3. Can The Reader Gather The SENSE OF URGENCY That I’m Attempting To Create?

She forcefully crammed herself through the closing door to escape.

How about: She sprinted towards the closing door and wedged her body through just in time before the doors slammed shut.

4. Can The Reader HEAR What I Intend For Them To Hear?

“I’ll go,” he said begrudgingly. – What’s begrudginly sound like?

How about: There was reluctance in his tone, but he acquiesced. “Sure…I’ll go.”

5. Create Strong Images With Your Words. It Works.

She walked briskly past the alleyway. – What’s a brisk pace look like?

In this case the reader has to gauge the speed and pace for themselves. It pulls the reader from the story and alerts the reader the he/she is, in fact, reading a story.

How about: She took a deep breath. Her steps were quick when she approached the alleyway.

Yeah, it takes a few more words, but hey goddammit: WORDS ARE WRITING.

Be Precise: There’s Always A Better Way.

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