Posted at April 24, 2020

Writing Tips: Adverbs (and why you should avoid them)


You are all being addressed here because you are all guilty of sprinkling those little “ly” adverbs throughout your manuscript, short story, poetry, or features.  Whatever the case may be, adverbs are inevitable.  They’re bad.  Disgraceful.  And more importantly, they bring down the quality of your writing from a ten to a zero.

Here’s why.

  1. Adverbs “tell” the action without showing it.  Sure, you walk slowly, softly creeping around the corner into the dimply lit, hauntingly quiet hallway.  OR, you take slow steps, creeping around the corner and appearing in a dim hallway thats haunted with silence.
    You choose.
  2. Adverbs are the lazy way of writing.  Why write an entire sentence about how sizzling hot the sun was when you could just say “it burned hotly”?  Instead of opting for the easy way out, go in depth.  Readers want to know what made the sun burn hotly.  We want to know the details about your blazing skin, about the heat springing from your flesh, and about the burning white light that’s blinding you.
    Give us all the details about what the adverb is trying to say.  We’re thirsty for it.
  3. These sad excuses for descriptions will not go over too well in the publishing industry.  For writers out there who are trying to publish their works, it won’t happen with adverbs.  Literary agents and publishers have been known to turn away manuscripts when they see too many adverbs.  So heads up, writers!  You want to remove these adverbs ASAP if you’re on your way to the bestseller’s list.
  4. Okay, now here’s how you can avoid them: When you start to feel an adverb about to spill from your fingertips, suck it back in and conjure up a whole other sentence about the verbs that the adverb is modifying.  Also, don’t be afraid of over-describing something.  You’d rather have too much than not enough, because it’s easy to go back and cut.  Not so easy to go back and add.  Lastly, get in touch with your creative side.  Since you’re already writing, then congratulations!  You’re there!  You just got a little lazy at the end.  So don’t sloppily go pull together a few words to make a story read nicely.
    Instead, go create a beautiful masterpiece that only you can write.
    You heard me.  Go.

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