Lesson - Over use of adverbs

Summerville, Georgia
February 26, 2018 5:41am CST
An adverb is a word that modifies the meaning of a verb. They tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent the action is performed. Examples of adverbs: She swims quickly - quickly tells us how fast she can swim He ran far - far tells us where he ran He arrived yesterday - yesterday tells us when he arrived In an earlier lesson I talked about better word choice when writing and adverbs are a nice way to assure the words mean what you are trying to say but then there are also sometimes better verbs that stand alone to mean the same. A lot of writers find themselves using too many adverbs so this lesson is to help you realize if you take a moment to look up other verbs your story may flow better. Example of a better verb: She ran very fast after the loose puppy She sprinted after the loose puppy Very is one of those adverbs best avoided when you can. 'very fast' modified the verb ran to help the reader understand how she ran but a single verb 'sprinted' replaced three words but still conveyed the same image of her running speed. The most common place writers over use adverbs is in dialog. Example: Mary swung around excited; her arm grazing the priceless vase. It tottered then spun while Mary and its owner, John, watched it trike the ground before coming to a rest in a hundred pieces. "Get out of my store you oaf;" John yelled angrily. Here angrily modifies John's yell but is it necessary? If the prose does not make it obvious John would be angry maybe but as a writer your job is to show not tell and adverbs that end in -ly are usually there to tell what you didn't show. When you do your second edit (first edit should only be used for story not grammar) stop at every adverb, especially the -ly ones and determine if there is a better verb or if you can do a better job showing what the adverb tells. I know it seems counterintuitive to a descriptive story but the less adverbs the better the story can be because the alternatives to adverbs create a more vivid image in a reader's mind instead of a lazy color by numbers story. Even adverbs you think are crucial can be eliminated in some cases. Example: Amy's red dress danced a flowing waltz of its own as she spun around the dance floor. The adverb red quickly tells us the dress is red. Flowing is used to modify the waltz the dress danced. But could you paint a better image without these adverbs? Amy's dress was like a mesmerizing fire; like flames flowing around Amy as she moved gracefully around the dance floor. Though mesmerizing is and adverb it alone adds flavor to the sentence, more so than the adverb red. Though I don't tell the reader the dress was red using the comparison to fire will most likely put the image of a flowing red dress in the reader's mind. I once had an English professor dictate a rule that there should only be 1 adverb for every 300 words of prose, and even though this is about using less adverb; I am not suggesting you start counting adverbs to eliminate them but to just review the use of each and if it fits leave it in if there is a better way to show what you are writing then change it.
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• Philippines
26 Feb
thank you for this... this is a refresher topic to our grammar..
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