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Evil adverbs

Published by Macaberz in the blog Macaberz's blog. Views: 759

Writing should be concise. The more unnecessary words are stripped away, the better. Machines don't come with extra parts, and you're unlikely to buy more food than you need. At the same time, this doesn't dictate that all sentences should be short, or that detail should be omitted. It simply means that every word should convey a message.

I was a common (ab)user of adverbs. Everything characters did, they did quickly, consicely, repeatedly, pragmatically etc. Adverbs aren't neccessarily bad, they work when they alter the meaning of a phrase.

Consider this:

"Your money or your life!" I shouted.
"Your money or your life," I said jokingly.

The use of 'jokingly' is justified because it alters what we assume to be the case. We assume that someone is being threatened, but jokingly alters that meaning.

Now consider this:

He quickly spun around to face the threat immediately.
He spun around to face the threat.

Quickly is implied by 'spinning around'. A good better use of an adverb would've been; 'He spun around slowly' because slowly alters the implied speed of 'spinning around'. It would of course be even better to not use 'spinning around' at all if its being done slowly, rather use 'turned around' which already implies a slower speed of movement.

'Immediately' is uneccessary. It should be assumed that all described actions are taking place immediately, unless altered by 'before' or 'after'.

Here is another example:

Shortly after I had ordered my drink, my coffee was pleasantly served.
After I had ordered my coffee, it was served.
- or -
My coffee was served.

If the speed at which the coffee was served is important, shortly should remain. Pleasantly is too vague in this context. Is the coffee pleasantly warm? Was the waitress pleasant? Or was the cream pleasant?

Quickly, he sprinted through the woods, patiently stalking his prey.
He sprinted through the woods, stalking his prey. (Quickly is implied by sprinting, patiently is (sort of) implied by stalking)

Now bring out your red pens and butcher all the evil adverbs!
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