Tuesday, March 30

To Adverb, Or Not To Adverb

That is the question.

Alright, I'm done being nerdy (for now). So, since I'm still feeling like I was hit by a bus and then run over several times, I'm going to try and keep this post short.

Okay, so I'm not sure if I've established how much of a rebel I am when it comes to writing, but I loathe the idea of someone telling me what I can and cannot write. That's not to say I don't follow most of the rules anyway-- because I do. However, it drives me up the wall when I come across post after post of people yabbering away about this writing rule or that writing rule. Seriously? JUST WRITE THE FREAKING THING!

I find that a lot of the time, people write awful stories or dry characters because they spend so much time making sure they follow the rules. They focus too much on the mechanics of writing and not on the ACTUAL writing. Now, that's not to say everyone does this, but a lot do.

One of my biggest writer pet peeves is when people say NO ADVERBS. Yes, a billion and one adverbs is very annoying to read and can also indicate "weak" writing. However, I am not one of those people who slaps the writer's wrist every time I see an adverb-- and trust me, I've received critiques like that and IT. DRIVES. ME. BONKERS!

Most of the time, yes, the adverb can be removed. But what about all the other times when it simply (HAH, take THAT you adverb haters) works?

I'm going to share a secret with you guys. When I send out my story to my betas, I leave all my adverbs in just to see what I can get away with *snickers* If no one brings it up, I leave them. If someone starts snarking at me for them, I may or may not take them out. But honestly (LOL), if I give you a 9 page chapter that happens to have 6 adverbs in them-- 3 of which are IN the dialogue (which so does not count in my books)-- then I say give it up buckaroo, they're stayin' ;)

But don't get me wrong, I tend to remove adverbs if someone points them out. However, for some odd reason, they're the last thing I pluck out of a scene. Maybe it's because it's been several days since I wrote that sentence and the adverb no longer seems as important? Whatever the reason, they're last to go in my books.

What's your take on adverbs? Love em? Hate em? Don't care?


  1. When I edit my rule of thumb is that if the adverb detracts from the verb, it has to go. 9 times out of 10 it gets deleted.

  2. Yay for adverbs!!! Seriously though, once I'm in revisions and I see one, if I can make the sentence better without it, I'll change the sentence around. But if I can't figure out a way to do that, it stays. Really. And if they're in the dialogue, oh yeah baby they stay.

  3. I heart adverbs. Ever since I was a kid learning about grammar, I always liked adverbs. Probably more the word "adverb" itself than what it means. I like the letters d, v, and b, and they're all together in the same neat little package.

    Ahem. But yeah. I write with adverbs, but adjectives are probably my bigger pitfall. I hearts them all, though I will remove them, IF I think it's necessary. Less is more and all that jazz.

  4. I'm with Summer. I think I love adjectives more. Thank you for this post. I have been driving myself nuts with all the rules out there and I think I'm loosing my story. The one I want to write.

  5. I am an adverb abuser. At my writing workshops they are always laughing at me and my overuse of adverbs and write them all down. It starts to feel a little "Twilighty" when they say, "These are the ones that stuck out: physically, temporarily, genuinely, beautifully, badly, tightly..." And on and on. I always want to add, "...in love."

    (You know, from Twilight...) *drumroll*

    God. I'm a dork...That's all...

  6. I love you. Were we separated at birth? Because I totally adore adverbs and get my wrists slapped EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I was just editing my story the other night and I thought, "You know what? This adverb adds to this sentence. And you know what else? I'm gonna leave it in. Because I'm the writer, so there!"
    *sticks out tongue* But seriously (see? I can't even write a comment without using adverbs) I do love them and use them often. I prune where necessary but if they fit, they stay.

  7. Love 'em. I mean, if it's not helping the sentence any then fine, I guess I could chuck it. BUT I adore them too much not to use them. :~D

  8. I'm not a writer (as you well know) but I figure the name says it all: it adds to the verb. A little more depth in a world of lol & BRB can't be all that bad can it? Mumsie

  9. hehehe adverbs!!! we used to be such close friends.

    i don't mind them in small doses, but now i don't really like them in my writing. i do agree, however, that sometimes they're necessary -- especially in dialogue -- as we tend to use them quite often in ordinary conversation.

    great post!!

  10. I think adverbs here and there are fine - if they add something to the story/action. Here's an example (because I like examples...even if these sentences are kind of lame):

    The boy stroked his dog's fur lovingly.

    I'd take that one out, because how else would you expect someone to pet their dog?

    The boy pulled the dog toward him violently.

    See, there I think it's OK, because you don't really expect a boy to be violent toward his dog. It tells you something you wouldn't otherwise know (though you could show it another way if you wanted). These are weak examples, but I think they illustrate my point.

    I've been exploring my MS and seeing where I can pull adverbs out. Usually I can get rid of them and say the same thing, so I try to do that when I can. JK Rowling used adverbs all over the place, though, and she did just fine. ;)

  11. I confess. I...


    **I'm going to share a secret with you guys. When I send out my story to my betas, I leave all my adverbs in just to see what I can get away with. **

    Um, I do the same thing. :)

  12. For me it depends on how many times an adverb shows up. An over abundance is a bad thing! As I edit someone's (or my own manuscript) I highlight all of them. Not to give the idea that all of them need to be changed but that the writer can pick and choose. Plus, seeing it highlighted really gives a sense of how many times you use adverbs.

    I agree that dialogue doesn't count!

  13. Amen sister! I hate it when people say "You can't do this" or "You can't do that" and then read some books (that are quite popular) and find those same rules broken in them.

  14. I love adverbs (sometimes) but I love Natalie Murphy (all the time.)

    And, I love her lovingly.

  15. Adverbs are my archnemesis. You know the one you love and hate. Ugh. I try not to use them, but sometimes I sneak them in. Okay, a lotta times, I sneak them in. And...Pfft!...I NEVER take them out of dialogue. That's the way my characters talk. Deal with it.

  16. I'm with you, Nat. I hate the thought of someone else telling me I can't use an entire section of the English language. Adverbs are there for a reason. Still, I think they're better off used sparingly. Like seasoning food. Sprinkle with a light hand or your dish ends up all salt and no meat.

    Heh about the leaving adverbs in for your betas. You know, they must've worked for me because I don't remember your adverbs. Your seasoning tasted just right. ;o)

  17. You're right. When they're necessary, they're necessary. It's the unnecessary ones that set my teeth on edge.

  18. This is a whimsical reflection on the use of the adverb. So true about the rules, detracting from what may come from the heart.

  19. Stephanie- Yes, if it detracts from the verb it should go.

    Anne- I do that too. I tell my document to highlight all the "ly" words and I go through them, deciding if they're necessary. Yay, I'm glad you agree about the dialogue! I got a critique once where all the adverbs in the dialogue was circled... I was confused.

    Summer- Lol you're cute =)

    Christine- You're welcome! I know I needed this post, so I figured others would too =)

    Tiff- Lmfao!

    Julie- Haha, I love you too hun. Good for you! It is YOUR story after all. I think we have the same opinion on adverbs. I trim them away if I feel they dont add to the sentence, but they stay otherwise.

    Mia- Haha I'm glad I've found another adverb lover. We should make a club.

    Mum- LOL! Very, very true.

    Tahereh- Yeah, I refuse to remove them from dialogue just because they're adverbs. Thanks!

    Heather- That was a perfect example. I agree that the first one doesnt need to be there at all, but for the second example, it does. LOL! Yes, JK Rowling did just fine.

    Jennifer S.- Haha YAY! I said this earlier, but I think we should all form a club, LOL!

    Harley- That's a good idea. I do the same thing when I'm looking at my own manuscript. If I only used 3 in a chapter though, I'm inclined to keep them =)

    Mel- YES! GRRRR! It drives me insane!!

    Amber- LMAO!!! You crack me up.

    Tina- I agree. Dialogue does not count.

    B.E.- Haha thanks ;)

    Angie- Im the same way. If I'm reading something and an adverb pops up when the sentence was fine without it, it does bug me.

    Paul- Thanks.


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