What is wrong with using adverbs in our writing?

Jump to Last Post 1-8 of 8 discussions (21 posts)
  1. Blond Logic profile image98
    Blond Logicposted 3 years ago

    What is wrong with using adverbs in our writing?

    I have read that many authors do not like use adverbs.
    Stephen King says, "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

  2. Kristen Howe profile image89
    Kristen Howeposted 3 years ago

    Adverbs is passive and there's a better way of showing than telling that way. You can use them sparingly in moderation.

    1. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I think I need to read a few more books on writing. So many years have passed since my English classes.
      Thanks Kristen

  3. Om Nom Nom profile image60
    Om Nom Nomposted 3 years ago

    Adverbs themselves aren't problematic: it's the tendency of novice writers to overuse them. Many times these adverbs aren't adding anything meaningful to a sentence, and they end up "cluttering" the writing.

    To toss out a rudimentary example, imagine you read the following in a novel:

    //
    "What time should we meet up with him?" I asked, quizzically. He quickly ran over to me, panting like a dog.

    "About six this evening," he said, breathlessly.
    //

    Here I've used three adverbs ("quizzically", "quickly", and "breathlessly") in a span of three sentences. All three would be better left out. To say someone "asks something quizzically" is redundant. "Quickly" is a weak adverb. We don't need to see the word "quickly" in a sentence to know that someone who is "running" can move quickly. It's implied. Finally, the inclusion of "breathlessly" is also redundant, because the reader could already infer this based on the stronger observation that the speaker was panting like a dog.

    Though this is just one example, it's easy to imagine just how weak and unnecessary many adverbs are.

    Adverbs aren't "off limits", but use them sparingly. Make sure they aren't weak, just restating the obvious, or taking up space without adding anything to the sentence (that couldn't be imagined or inferred by the reader).

    When in doubt, try leaving it out. There is almost always a more powerful and imaginative way of adding detail than using an adverb.

    Hope this helps you! Happy writing!

    1. cam8510 profile image95
      cam8510posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Good comment.

    2. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Yes it has helped. It is cutting out the fluff. Your examples, and explanations are perfect. As one other person commented, choose brave and strong words instead.
      Thanks for your answer.

    3. Venkatachari M profile image28
      Venkatachari Mposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Very good advice. Thanks, Om Nom Nom. Your reply can be of much help to most of us

    4. Venkatachari M profile image28
      Venkatachari Mposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      BTW, Om Nom Nom, you are welcome to Hubpages. I went to your profile and found you joined only 2 days back. Wish you good luck and all the best.

    5. Om Nom Nom profile image60
      Om Nom Nomposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks, Venkatachari!

  4. Rochelle Frank profile image95
    Rochelle Frankposted 3 years ago

    It may be a matter of style, but adverbs tend to clutter and dilute the message.
    I guess he could have said: "I deeply and sincerely believe the road to hell is substantially paved with adverbs, and I will loudly and ardently shout it from the rooftops."
    I think we should swiftly, assiduously and completely remove  any unnecessary words from our writing.

    1. Lisa HW profile image65
      Lisa HWposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      While I don't disagree with any of the above answers; I have to say I kind of like your "bad example" version better - except for, maybe, one or two adverbs.   BUT, the "statement example" is not fiction writing.  It expresses thoughts/feelings.

    2. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Hi Rochelle,
      I have to agree with Lisa HW, I like your bad example too. Maybe I should have been born in a different era, say Victorian or 1600's when language was littered with such things.

  5. wingedcentaur profile image82
    wingedcentaurposted 3 years ago

    Hi Mary Wickison! How's it going?

    Adverbs in fiction have the character of an author trying to convince herself of whatever mood she is trying to set, in a scene, in a chapter, in a story, or novel. Imagine listening to someone talk about something: a friend trying to convince you (or himself?) that he is NOT an alcoholic.

    Wouldn't his speech be filled with ridiculous superlatives and adjectives?: I am absolutely not an alcoholic! Yes sir, I can definitely hold off from drinking anytime I want to! To make you happy, I'm going to be really, really, really disciplined and stop for a month!

    If you are writing a scary story, you should let the story do the work. You should not try to help it along with desperate, prompting, laugh-track language like adverbs.

    "The door opened creakily in the still of the night, with the full moon glowing maniacally in the inky black of the sky." Yada, yada, yada...

    If I ever wrote something so awful, you should ask me: Are you, the writer, trying to convince the reader or yourself that the atmosphere is scary?

    Fiction writers need show their stuff bravely and not hide behind desperate, prompting, laugh-track adverbs.

    Take it easy!

    1. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for those examples. I can see in a dialogue they could work depending on the character. Your creaking door example does sound desperate.  Thanks for your answer.

  6. cam8510 profile image95
    cam8510posted 3 years ago

    Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with them in writing, but they can be the sign of a lazy writer.  Showing the story, creating images in the readers' mind, is done with nouns and active, action verbs.  I write a lot of flash fiction and keep my word count under 1,000 words.  Action words and picture words tell the story.  Good question.

    1. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I think you've hit the nail on the head, it is laziness. I thought it sounded more arty and poetic. Too many romance books perhaps.

  7. profile image0
    Larry Wallposted 3 years ago

    Writing by a formula—that is what we all learned in English class. Adverbs have their place. Using too many adverbs is like using too many adjectives or conjunctions to connect four sentences into one.
    It sometimes works. Many times it will not. I argue with proof readers at one of the content mills where I average about $1,000 a year. We argue over commas. In particular, we argue about the comma before the word 'and' when listing a series of items, separated by commas. The word and is not one of the items and accordingly, does not need a comma in front of it. That is how we did it in the newspaper business. We also spelled employee with one e at the end for decades, but finally bumped it up to two e's at the end. Grammar rules have to be approach with a personal viewpoint. Your writing has to be clear, but it can be different. I am looking forward to the day when the split infinitive is no longer taboo. It will happen in the future, when the Starship Enterprize undertakes its mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before."

    I have been writing for 40 years. I have won some awards as a reporter, made a little money as a free lancer, was doing well on Hub Pages for a while and am working on a couple of short stories. I will never be a novelist. I do not want to develop stories that require such length. Every writer has to learn his own style. There is no guarantee it will make you rich, but it will be your style.

    1. cam8510 profile image95
      cam8510posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Good words, Larry.  Thanks.

    2. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Your words have hit home with me. I enjoy writing but I don't feel I have found the right avenue yet. I enjoy Hubpages but the financial rewards are lacking. The content mill I write for leaves me feeling like a prostitute.

  8. Billie Kelpin profile image85
    Billie Kelpinposted 3 years ago

    "Absolutely" nothing is wrong with using adverbs in our writing.  This is an over- generalized concept that became perpetuated throughout the writing community.  Factual, non-fiction writing such as the how-to articles here on hubpages does not lend itself "well" to the use of adverbs and "probably" is deterred by them. (Although you might not want to eliminate "slowly" when describing how to add sugar in a merigue recipe smile  Literary writing, however (short stories, novels, etc.) can be enhanced by the "delicately" placed adverb.  There are so many different styles of writing and preferences in style of a reader.  I myself am not fond of "too" many metaphors or visual images in a piece of writing.  I get lost in visual descriptions because I'm an auditory person.  Anne Lindbergh’s "Gift from the Sea" drove me crazy and it was other people's favorite book club choice at the time!  Either you love Beethoven or John Denver,  Gospel music or heavy metal.  Everything has it's place and importance.  Adverbs have theirs, "especially" when used "judiciously" and "well".  (I "totally" didn't intend to monitor my adverbs here with quotes - just wrote "naturally" and added the quotes after the fact. For better or worse, the use of adverbs is just my style and I'm sticking to it. )

    1. Blond Logic profile image98
      Blond Logicposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      You have made some valid points. I think my writing is liberally sprinkled with them. Thanks for defending the use of adverbs.
      Thanks for your answer.

 
working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)