Adverbs–I Hate Them

Grumpy Cat hates them, too.

In a nutshell, if you’re using an adverb to do what you want done, you’ve got a lazy verb.  Lazy verbs are also boring verbs.  Take the following example:  Elaine was really mad.  Why use this when you could have:

  • Elaine was irate.
  • Elaine was incensed.
  • Elaine was enraged.
  • Elaine was fuming.
  • Elaine was furious.

You get the idea.  I was able to go to a Creative Writing Club meeting yesterday because I had the day off.  Normally, I work when they meet and workshop.  I took my trusty pen (ok, it was Lori’s trusty pen), and started crossing them out.  The pen makes a lovely scratch against the paper when it’s crossing out adverbs.

I had a great laugh while I was there, though.  A couple of semesters ago, I told Lori she was no longer allowed to use the word “seemed.”  I forbade it.  Either something was or it was not.  It was very Yoda of me.  (Is, or Is not.  There is no seemed.)  If there is deception taking place, there are better ways to show it.  So, I’m reading an older story of her’s and near the end of one of the pages, she used seemed.  She started laughing when she saw, “No seemed EVER!” written on the bottom of the page.  It was a good time.

But back to my point.  Adverbs: don’t do that.  Seriously. 😛

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5 comments on “Adverbs–I Hate Them

  1. Lori Hicks says:

    Anything new I write, I do a find/replace for the word “seem” so that I don’t violate your law Erin. It was and is good advice for writers of any skill level.

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  2. I always say that about seemed too! It was one of my early nightmares! I still catch myself putting it in sometimes, bad habits die hard LOL. But as for flaming adverbs … GRRRR I had to go through my entire book line by line, removing adverbs and rewriting the sentences, VERY late on in the edit. It took two weeks of getting up at 4am before work and even then I only managed the first third and the last third of the book. Funnily enough, I think the story dips a bit in the middle, and I bet it’s because of the adverbs!

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    • Erin R Britt says:

      LOL I was horrible about them early on. I’m glad I had professors who wouldn’t let me slide on them. Now, I’ve trained myself to avoid them most of the time. Some of them slip through sometimes, and I’ll use them all the time in informal chat, but that’s not one of my pitfalls. I added one at the very end of the post to be funny. 😀

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  3. […] as you go through your stories and polish them up.  The first thing we’re going to attack is adverbs.  Circle every adverb in your first scene.  Now, replace the verb it modified with a stronger […]

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