1. natsuki
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    natsuki Active Member

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    Adverbs in writing?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by natsuki, Jul 10, 2010.

    I was searching for tips on writing and I found a text where a writer said that we should, after writing a text, search for all words ending with -ly, and eliminate most of them.

    I looked at books I have here, by good authors, and there a lot of adverbs in it. Sometimes even in dialogue tags, like: He said sharply, She laughed loudly

    I know that abusing adverbs makes the writing unprofessional, but I was wondering, is it THAT bad to the point that you should eliminate most of them?
     
  2. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    for me, adverbs makes your composition more lively to read. More actions to see and even feel if we have these adverbs but abusing the use of them might spoil your composition even how good the gist is still it makes your work full of "acting crowds"
     
  3. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I think the thumb rule reads "eliminate all/most of them" because that will make most writers eliminate some of them and carefully consider those they kept. Is the rule of thumb had read "eliminate some of them and carefully consider witch to keep" the beginning writer would take away -way- to few then the text would need.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Adverbs should be used sparingly. Instead, use better verbs when you can.

    A habit of overusing adverbs, especially in dialogue tags, is called Tom-swifting.

    Keep your writing lean and agile. Don't flab it with unnecessary modifiers.
     
  5. Arvik
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    Arvik Member

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    First of all, natsuki, I like your avatar. ;)

    Regarding the adverbs, I avoid them where I can. As Cogito said, a stronger verb will do the trick most of the time, and it does make things leaner and cleaner.

    There are exceptions. Adverbs are a legitimate part of language, but they're more like spices, as opposed to eggs and flour. A pinch or a dash is usually sufficient.
     
  6. natsuki
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    natsuki Active Member

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    Thank you for the answers. At least I don't have to eliminate all the adverbs I use :)
    but I will try harder to keep it simple and use better verbs on my writing, as that seems to be the key to improve...

    Thanks again :)
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adverbs are the enemy of the verb.







    Said Mark Twain.
     
  8. Jane Beryl
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    Jane Beryl Member

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    As my english teacher told me, if it's not useful, adverbs take away the power from the verb. It's not a good way to write. >w<
     
  9. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    ...and as a reader, too many adverbs make me often feel like the writer doesn't trust my intelligence. Feels like the writer is trying to explain things which I have already understood.
     
  10. MedleyMisty
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    MedleyMisty Member

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    Honestly, when I see "he said sharply" or "she laughed loudly", I would not put the adjective good before the word author when describing the person who wrote those phrases. Maybe best selling author, because most books with "New York Times Best Seller" on the cover are atrocious, but not good.

    My general policy is to delete any words ending in -ly unless they can prove that they need to be there. I'm not a big fan of following rules set by other people, but I've found that one actually works and does really improve the text.
     
  11. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Adverbs either cheat or overkill.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a genius bit of coinage, cog!... may i steal it? [won't claim it as mine own, however]...

    hugs, m
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    “Don’t use adverbs “ is a rule that seems, through endless repetition in writing manuals, to have acquired far more force than it actually merits. It’s a good rule for inexperienced writers to keep in mind, and has probably saved readers from suffering through a lot of ridiculous sentences, but I think insisting on it is a little condescending, like saying “Don’t run with scissors” or “Don’t swim right after eating”. It’s a rule for keeping children safe; presumably, adults will have outgrown the need for it.

    I’d like to see a famous and highly-respected author write an essay celebrating the adverb. It’s a valuable part of speech that’s been treated too disrespectfully by too many self-styled writing experts for too long. Long live the adverb!
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have never seen a piece of writing and thought, "This needs more adverbs."

    I have seen far too many pieces of writing for which the opposite was true.
     
  15. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    like what cog?
     
  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's a bit facile. I have never seen a piece of writing and thought, "This needs more adverbs", too, but I've also never seen a piece of writing and thought "This needs more nouns and verbs and adjectives" either. But I don't advocate taking them out.

    I, too, have seen a lot of pieces of writing that have had too many adverbs; probably everybody has. And I've also seen a lot of excellent pieces of writing that have had just enough adverbs. They're just words; there's no need to hate them. People just have to learn to be judicious in their use.
     

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