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Death to All Adverbs

            I’m almost done going through proofreading my novel and I have to say, the proofreading is going much better than the overall editing is. But even though I hld steadfast to the rule that I should try not to use adverbs, I find them in novel anyway.

            My favorites? Suddenly, abruptly, really, immediately, and finally. But when I go back through, I find the sentences actually work better without them. In order to illustrate how, let’s talk about why we writers curse adverbs anyway.

            Adverbs are just a lazy way to add impact when we’re too lazy to find better verbs. But not only that, we also use them when we have perfectly suitable verbs, but don’t thing their strong enough. For example:

            Alan suddenly burst into the room.

            Let’s look at the verb suddenly modifies here. It modifies the word burst. When someone burst into a room, the verb implies that someone suddenly came into the room. When my sisters burst into the room, it’s always sudden and that makes the use of suddenly kind of useless here. Therefore,

            Alan burst into the room.

            Is sufficient to get the meaning across. Nine times out of ten, this is usually the case. Either we already have a sufficient verb or we need to find a stronger one. So since I’ve really said all I have to say on this point, I’m going to give a list of common adverbs, or at least the ones I find in my novel and some I’ve seen elsewhere that really get on my nerve.

            Ran fast
            Really? What other way can you run? Sure some people run faster than others, but in most cases, you can drop the fast and just use run unless you really need to get specific.

            Immediately, quickly did something….
            Depending on the verb, you can get rid of this one too. One of my friend loves to use the word, quickly. I quickly did this or I quickly did that. Depending on the context and if you’ve set up the right pace, we don’t need to know that it was done quickly or immediately. I especially see this in battle scenes. If you’ve already established that it’s an intense fight, we don’t need to know that someone quickly or immediately blocked a punch. How else are you going to block a punch if it’s coming at you?

            Abruptly/ suddenly
            These verbs are usually use in conjunction with phrases like jumped to his feet or burst into the room. So how else does someone jump to their feet or burst into a room besides suddenly or abruptly?

            I hate this one. I really do. Someone used it and I wanted to scream. Damn it, if a person is established as evil why the hell do I need to know that they smiled evilly. How else does a bad guy smile? Now if the bad guy smiles fondly or endearingly or affectionately, that’s something I need to know!

            See how useless adverbs are sometimes? In some ways, most ways, you really don’t need them. That doesn’t mean don’t use them, but nine times out of ten, you don’t.

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