Adverbs: Use Em’, Like Em’, Loathe Em’?

LY-Adverbs1Sometimes I just wanna say, “Fuck you! I write with adverbs.” Most times, I say, “Yes. Adverbs in writing are not always needed. I’ll take a look at that. Thanks,” while looking down and sobbing as drops smear my writing, my precious adverbs.

Let’s take a close look – c’mon now, gather in…you guys in the back need to cram up closer, thug life it, if need be – at the rules of writing fiction. Ready? Deep breathes everyone. Collective sigh. Oaky here—

“Oh hell. What is it?”

Shouts from the back of class being heard in my mind.

“Yes, you in the lime green shirt, write this down.”



Okay, okay. Sure, I didn’t really need to yell it, but yelling is effective. Isn’t it? It’s not? Dammit! I always screw that up. Maybe?

In writing, the adverb is like sugar. You know it’s not good. You need to stay away, but it’s addicting. As writers, we try to follow this rule. I used extremely large air quotes right there, but they were waaaayyyyy too big to print.

Thing is, there are five types of adverbs, but hey, who are we kidding; we’re not gonna get into that here. This isn’t an English class. For best results, see all things “adverb” in Google. You’ll like it.

Be Precise:

We write. We know words. We can conjugate. We…well, we know shit. Extremely large becomes enormous or huge. Said quietly becomes whispered. Don’t be sloppy. Don’t distance the reader by filling in details the reader should be filling in.

There’s Always A Better Way:

As with everything, writing has a secret society of literary linguistics and grammar guardians who say, “Holy sharkshit, there’s a better way!”  And, if you don’t like that, they have a smiley face elbow for you to meet. Also, see Be Precise.

To be honest, adverbs aren’t only words ending in -ly. Shit! Did I just share that? Dammit! I told the powers to be – yeah, those goddamn guardians of the grammar who preach from the book tops – that I would never tell anyone.

Google be damned, here it is: adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or even adverbs. Shhhhhhhhhh. Don’t tell.

Remove the black-lensed shades – uhhh, we’re inside anyway, Mr. Cool –  and we see that adverbs aren’t necessarily all bad.

>>>He looks around waiting for the knock on the door from the guardians.

The adverb can benefit  your writing when used judiciously.

>>>Still looking. Waiting. Scared.

Ask yourself: Does the adverb change the word it modifies? Does it make the verb or adjective mean something extremely different?

If yes, use it. If no, trash it. Period.

Bottom line, find your style. Be precise, but know that there are better ways to write the same thing and get your point across. Some of those -ly words you use simply don’t need to be used at all.

What do you guys think? Do you try to stay away from the adverb plague? Should we order pizza and chat about it? Rhetorical.

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