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To Adverb or Not to Adverb

But there are adverbs that fit and still carry weight.

Adverbs creep into our stories. Your story can’t move along with vague words. You need to show your character or your plot settings with active words. Adverbs may be too vague to give your readers a clear view of what you want to say. Should you avoid adverbs? But then, should all adverbs be avoided – ‘completely’?

I believe you should not avoid adverbs – ‘totally’. Consider your character’s dialogue. Your characters, like real people, use adverbs in their everyday language. Adverbs show the characters’ personality through their dialogue. Since you want to make your characters believable, they must act and speak as real people speak – ‘generally’. If you take out all the adverbs in all dialogues, the character’s personality becomes dull and unrefined, unless you want this character as dull and unrefined. Some of your characters may have a boring personality. But all other characters should show authenticity – ‘naturally’.

If you want to cut down adverbs find their meanings. When you have that information then you rewrite your sentence to fit that meaning. I hope this will – ‘surely’ help.

But there are adverbs that fit and still carry weight. I sometimes use the adverb ‘quickly’. I believe this word is understandable to all who read this word. Example “she quickly removed her hand from his.” The word shows rapid motion. But can we use this new adverb in this new example? “Naturally’ she quickly removed her hand from his.” You don’t need the adverb “naturally” in this example. At this point in your story you have described the female character’s desires (or lack of desire) for this character before this sentence. Therefore, you don’t need the adverb ‘naturally’ because her previous actions and thought of this man have been written to this point in your story – ‘definitely’.

Check the value of your adverbs. Do these words move your story along – ‘clearly’? If not, use the adverb’s meaning and rewrite the sentence or remove the adverb – ‘totally’. Use words to show your readers your story so they can understand and get the full picture – ‘absolutely.’

Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing

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