Writing Tips

Writing Tips: Adverbs of Doom

writing-2Adverbs are bad. They’re evil. Whenever you see a word ending with -ly, run, hide and resist the urge to jump off a building. Adverbs are the spawn of Satan, and when you use them constantly, your text will read like something Satan came up with while he hung around with Cthulhu in the Bar of All Things Evil, drinking the blood of virgins and feasting on the flesh of babies. Reading your adverb-dominated text will call forth the apocalypse, and we all know how that ends.

But enough with the jokes and time to get serious. Adverbs make you a bad writer. They show lack of creativity, they bore the readers to death, and they fail to pull your readers ‘into the moment’. Now I know, back in high school, teachers were thrilled when you came up with suitable adverbs, but as they say, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy”. Time to grow up and get rid of those adverbs.

Let me give you a few examples.

He ran quickly down the stairs.

*yawn* I almost fell asleep reading that. For one, to run already indicates that he’s doing something quickly. If you want to emphasize how quickly he runs down the stairs, try the following.

He raced down the stairs.

He fled down the stairs.

He sprinted down the stairs.

All those sentences mean the same, but instead of using the weak adverb “quickly” and the weak verb “ran”, we’ve replaced them by a stronger verb, like “sprinted”, “raced” or “fled”.

Then there are the adverbs that are absolutely unnecessary to get your point across. For example:

The fire alarm rang loudly.

She screamed loudly.

Have you ever heard a fire alarm that didn’t rang loudly? Not only does this sentence sound awkward, but you’re using adverbs that are completely unnecessary. And if a person doesn’t scream loud, than they’re not screaming at all, so the second sentence doesn’t need that adverb either.

Overall, try to stay away from adverbs. Not all adverbs are bad, but in 99% of the cases, they can be deleted, or they show you’re using a weak verb, and changing the verb into something else will make the adverb useless.

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