Adverbs everywhere

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Are adverbs really the devil? If they sneak in occasionally, does it mean we’re lazy?

As I’ve said to you many times before, I don’t do grammar. I failed English at school (twice as it happens) and wouldn’t know an adverb if it bit me savagely on the proverbial. And to be honest, I’m getting a bit too old to start learning it now.

I had to do a little research, this is what I found :-

An adverb is a word that modifies (describes) a verb (he sings loudly), an adjective (very tall), another adverb (ended too quickly), or even a whole sentence (Fortunately, I had brought an umbrella). Adverbs often end in -ly, but some (such as fast) look exactly the same as their adjective counterparts.

And this was some advice that I spotted about the use thereof.

  • Don’t use adverbs that state the obvious (everyone bellows loudly)
  • Try not to be lazy…take the time to find a better word
  • Don’t add adverbs just to make a sentence longer
  • If your verb sucks, find a new one instead of trying to spruce it up with an adverb
  • Stay away from really and very (Yes, I’m sure I’ve used them lots of times)
  • Try to use them only when the meaning of the sentence suffers without it
  • Don’t use adverbs that are redundant

Just reading all of that made me so glad that I employ an editor. She takes care of such things for me, whilst I just write what I see on the never-ending film in my head.

As a result of her work, nobody has ever mentioned that I use too many adverbs, so she must be doing a good job.  

Which is a relief. I’d hate to get bogged down in technicalities, after all, I’m only really interested in writing. Any distraction can’t be good for the flow. If she was to tell me to cut the adverbs, I’d be totally lost.

As for what I think about the subject, it’s like anything, too much can be a nuisance and too little can leave you wanting more.


The correct amount should be left up to the reader. I’ve said it before, language evolves and tastes change. There’s no place for the grammar police or the plot patrol in determining what’s acceptable. The language I use is appropriate to the action that’s unfolding. So there!

If I use them, am I lazy?

No. I’m not. I just write what I’m told and spend a considerable amount of my life doing it. The idea that my choice of words indicates someone who can’t be bothered is not one that I subscribe to, especially when I’ve been slaving over a hot keyboard all day.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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8 Responses

    • Richard Dee

      No. Because I have multiple rounds of editing, what happens is a process of identification of the weak areas and suggestions for improvement. These are addressed by me and taken into the next round. Nothing is changed or cut unilaterally.

      • Stevie Turner

        I tend to edit my own work chapter by chapter. I’ve received reviews where readers have stated that ‘not one word is wasted’, and so at the moment it saves me money because I can’t afford expensive editing by somebody else who may want to change my story in a way that I’m not keen on.

        • Richard Dee

          I can’t edit my own work, I’ve tried and it’s hopeless. I’m content to spend a little on making a good impression and fortunate to have a found someone who understands that. They have never tried to change my voice, just make it comprehensible. I once had a review comment that said: “Unusually for a self-published book, it is almost entirely free from grammatical or typographical errors.” Rather pleased with that one.

  1. Chris L Adams

    Yes, trying to follow all this writing advice can be the very Devil, Richard. I envy you your editor. Unfortunately, I wrote it, and I have to fix it. So I usually write without putting too much thought into it, and then go back and looked for all of those ‘Suddenly…” &etc, occurrences, and fix them.

    The thing is, many of my favorite authors wrote like that ‘back in the day’, and having read so much of that stuff, it comes naturally to write in that same manner. Take this excerpt from Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane tale, Red Shadows:


    “I understand, child. Then–?”

    “Then–he–he–stabbed me–with his dagger–oh, blessed saints!–mercy–”

    Suddenly the slim form went limp. The man eased her to the earth, and touched her brow lightly.

    “Dead!” he muttered.


    You see that Suddenly in there? Every drop of writing advice I’ve read or will read dictates that word be removed. But this is Robert E. Howard we’re talking about, Richard–one of the most famous writers in the world. So who am I to tell the man he can’t have his Suddenly, if he really and truly wants it?

    Keep writing, Richard! Enjoy your posts, as always.


    • Richard Dee

      Great example Chris, proving the point that every word has its place. In the end, the reader (and the author) are a better judge of worth than an “expert”, in my humble opinion.

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