Cut the Adverbs

escape routeI joined a writer’s group yesterday. I read a piece by a neophyte author, which had many problems. A seasoned editor slashed his way through her submission. I mean, he gutted the thing. By the time he was done, there were little beyond articles and participles left. The editor ascribes to the school of modern writing, which states, “Do not use adverbs, ever.” I admit I had seen glancing references to the notion prior to this, but I ignored them.

Seeing the edits scared the hell out of me and sent me in panic to assess my own use of adverbs. I was dismayed to see how thoroughly I pepper my writing with the words. One might say I have entangled my developing voice with them.

As an experiment, I did a side-by-side comparison of the first chapter of the book I’m writing, one with adverbs, one without. Is one better than the other? Or are they just different? Is the improvement great enough to justify rewriting the entire book? I’m not convinced. Some parts have improved, but not everything.

Writers in the group remind me that the choice is mine. I am the one in charge here. It is up to me to say how it will be. I do not know, yet. I wish it was an easier decision.

“Express Yourself” from “Express Yourself” by Labrinth, Released: 2012, Track 1.

Postscript 5/14/2014
I was delighted to see Robin Black’s post on the use of adverbs on the Beyond the Margins website. Here are some words of wisdom to counter those who say we should never use adverbs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *