Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing 101: The Adverb Debate

If you spend any amount of time reading writing tips, you'll be exposed to the adverb debate. Some authors, like Stephen King, say don't use them at all. But are they really that bad?


What's an Adverb?

Before you know if adverbs are evil, it's helpful to figure out what they are. To put it simply, an adverb is any word with the -ly suffix. Mightily, oddly, fervently -- these are adverbs (ugly isn't one; there are exceptions to every rule). Adverbs are a well-used part of speech, and you're very likely to find them in all forms of writing.

So what makes them evil?

The Root of All Bad Writing

Those who dislike adverbs argue that they're cheap. A little too easy, a cop-out that's used in place of real descriptive writing. Instead of saying that Marie's voiced trembled, you write that she spoke fearfully.

Don't think there's anything wrong with that? You aren't alone. Many writers use adverbs happily, myself included. I've made no special effort to add them here, but I have put them in bold for easy identification.

The adverb debate is a losing argument. Writers should use every available word in their arsenals, and not limit themselves when it comes to descriptive text. Writing without adverbs is a difficult challenge, and a silly one.

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