Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No Adverbs? Why??

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  
                                           ~~~~Matthew 6:3-4, 7-8 ~~~

So.  Why exactly are we not supposed to use adverbs?  Oops, I just used one.  There.  In the first sentence.
  Anyway, Mark Twain said this, "If you see an adverb, kill it."  that sounds pretty harsh.  Steven King also is very much against them.  Why is this?  Everyone else who just hears and does without asking, should look deeper into the question.  I was wondering this.  Then I googled it (oh how I love Google) and found some very good answers.
It is because, quite frankly, of many reasons.  Here are some, mixed with ways to counteract them or replace them.
1.  It doesn't sound as professional, using a word with 'ly' at the end of it, or -ness at the end of a word too.  All adverbs are adjectives with 'ly' at the end.  Show me otherwise and I will be enlightened.  We can always change them to adjectives.  "He spoke quietly" to "The man's words were quiet." 

2.  Some adverbs aren't even needed.  "She ran quickly", "He walked slowly" - I've used that one - "the man whispered quietly."

None of these are needed.  We all know when you run you run fast.  We know that when you walk, it's slower than running, but you could always replace it with a stronger verb: crept, tip-toed, or "He was slow, creeping closer."
But what happens when someone runs slowly because of a limp?  They "limped" of course.  What happens when a child whispers loudly?  We could always say something like "The child attempted a soft whisper, but it came out loud and hoarse."
You know when you try to get a child to whisper, the idea is that when you whisper you'll be quiet, but when a child tries to whisper, it is always loud and anyone can hear it.  They are experts at it.

But, there is one exception to this rule, and it lies in dialogue.  People can use adverbs all they want and readers won't complain.  But only have a character use a bunch of adverbs if it is their characteristic to do so.
Now, I won't be a hypocrite.  I do have a bunch of adverbs to deal with in my own work, but I thought this would be helpful.  Also, I'm saying this as much to myself as to you.  Not many people even read my blog. *sad face*
Could you spread this around to other writers/book-lovers?  I would appreciate it very much.

God bless you!
~~~Emilyn J Wood


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