Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today the question is:
Are adverbs really the devil? If they sneak in occasionally, does it mean the writer is lazy?
I suppose I do agree with Stephen King when he said that the road to hell is paved with adverbs. For example, ‘A cat pounced quickly on the mouse’ takes less brain power to write than ‘The leonine speediness of a cat’s paw dispatched the mouse to the hereafter‘.
However, when we budding authors start out with a blank screen and an idea, many of us (myself included) merrily type away and include many words ending in ‘ly’ and also just as many words ending in ‘ing’. There’s a simple reason for that; we do not know any better.
Unfortunately when I was younger I did not have the chance to study for an English degree or for a career in journalism. I wish I had done so now, but it’s 45 years too late. I had to learn these mistakes in later life when I started to write novels. The help from WordPress has been invaluable, as many bloggers (thanks especially to Chris, the Story Reading Ape for finding all those useful blogs) actively publish writing tips which have included grammar dos and don’ts, and I have learned quite a lot over the past 7 years.
So… to answer the question at the top of the page… yes, the writer needs to figure out how to construct a grammatically good sentence, but it doesn’t come easy and it’s a steep learning curve. That’s why so many novels have an abundance of adverbs. It’s not because the author is lazy; indeed they may have sweated blood and tears for months getting all their ideas down. No, the real reason is that he/she just hasn’t yet learned the correct way to write a novel.
Let’s see what other blog-hoppers think about adverbs:
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