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December 14th, 2004, 11:36 PM
I've recently begun writing again after a long hiatus and I was talking to a friend who has been writing awhile and a piece of advice that he gave me was to never, EVER, use adverbs. This sounds strange to me because adverbs seem to help stories greatly (see, did it :D). I will submit that they shouldn't be over used but I was just wondering if this no use of adverbs thing was common.



December 14th, 2004, 11:46 PM
Adverbs can make it very passive. Passive is not good.

Rocket Sheep
December 15th, 2004, 12:21 AM
No one notices one or two per page. It's when they go around in great raucous tribes, people point and cry, "Ugly!"

Save them for when you need them.

December 15th, 2004, 12:26 AM
I don't think the rule is don't use adverbs ever.

Beginning writers tend to overuse them to the point where they bog down the pace of the story. Hence there are a number of people who suggest avoiding them. It's the same as starting a sentence with a conjuction - it should be avoided in general, but there's nothing to really stop you from doing it. No publisher is going to throw away a good story that travels out of the guidelines anyway. Personally I try to get through the first draft, and then, if I find the adverbs are counter productive they get the axe.

December 15th, 2004, 12:28 AM
Aye... they can make it passive, but more often than not they are abused.
I don't care if he rushed quickly, the speed is implied. Oh wait now he is cautiously looking around!
Adverbs tend to be substituted for actual content... What I mean by that is that instead of setting up tension in the writing a writer might throw in adverbs to try to give it that feel.

And passive voice is an ugly, ugly thing once you realize what it is. All it takes is one instance of passive voice in an inappropriate spot to ruin a story (this is assuming that it is so bad I am distracted enough to catch it, and start finding numerous examples of it).

December 15th, 2004, 09:05 AM
thanks for the advice guys. it's all very helpful. I have on other question along the same lines. Is it better to write "Susan looked at Rick. There was a sense of worry in her eyes." Rather than, "Susuan looked worriedly at Rick."

I'm just trying to get a feel as to how I can still relay the mood (if it hasn't been previously relayed) without relying on adverbs too much.



December 15th, 2004, 09:31 AM
This reminded me of something from a while back that I'm not sure I've ever put up here at SFFWorld. So if I have, sorry to repeat. If not, not sure where the correct place is, so I'll just dump it here and let the mods sort it out. :)

Here's examples of writing style...numbered for easy reference.

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand
times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million
can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Don't misspell words. It makes you look ignorent.

December 15th, 2004, 09:36 AM
I agree that "NEVER use an adverb" is too strict a rule to follow, but I also agree that when they are overused the writing suffers. When an adverb and a verb can be replaced by one strong verb (for example, changing "he walked quickly" to "he strode") the writing sounds much stronger. The challenge is to find the perfect verb. It's often easier to use adverbs, but not best.

In Stephen King's book On Writing he talks a lot about cutting down on adverbs, although he admits that sometimes you just have to throw in one or two.

Personally I do make a conscious effort when I'm writing to avoid using them when I can.

December 15th, 2004, 11:17 AM
Personally I do make a conscious effort when I'm writing to avoid using them when I can.

Agreed, though there are times when an adverb is appropriate. I've found that if I exhaust all options in writing a passage without adverbs and finally decide to use one, things turn out OK. Verily. ;)

Go back and read the Dragonlance Chronicles again - adverbs by the ton. Still love the books, but everything is done merrily or fruitfully or stealthily...

Alan H.

December 15th, 2004, 12:02 PM
Your friend is wrong. Use adverbs however you like. All the other authors do. Passive is fine. It is used all the time. You can even add some rhyme. All the theories about what you have to have or have to leave out in written fiction have no basis in reality.

And yes, this is my opinion. But unlike all those never use adverb bon mots, mine is actually based in fact. I apologize for sounding short. You have every right to ask this question -- here is the place for it -- and everyone has the right to express their opinion on it. But I've been dealing with this question for eighteen years and I'm just a wee bit tired. In fact, we had a discussion on this very topic not that long ago -- I just don't remember the name of the thread, or I'd copy my posts there. I just can't do it again. I'll go mad. So here, I will just say, ignore it. Please. For the love of the written word.