Writing Well: Magical Modifiers

Do you get told off when you use adverbs in your writing? How about requests to reduce adjective use? Well, this should make you happy. You can use adverbs. Just don’t overdo it.  Very useful post.

Live to Write - Write to Live

road hell adverbsEvery once in a while, you come across a discovery that gives you the opportunity to transform your writing. This post is about just such a discovery.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs, so says Stephen King. And, who am I to argue with Mr. King.

In Dead Poet’s Society, Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, forbids his students to use the word very (the most heinously bland and meaningless modifier of them all), “… because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.”

The case against adverbs is a strong one, with revered authors from every era and genre giving impassioned testimony against this eternal enemy of good writing:

  • “Adverbs are another indication of writing failure. Exactly the right verb can eliminate the need for the adverb.” William Sloane
  • “Omit needless words. Watch for adverbs that merely repeat…

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3 thoughts on “Writing Well: Magical Modifiers”

  1. I believe there are exceptions to every rule. Just how much of an emphasis you wanna add to the exception rather than the rule, though, should be an exercise in caution. It can very easily turn out as just another poorly written book.

    1. True. I actually don’t like to see articles where they say that things like adverbs should never be used. They have their uses, just don’t overdo it. I’m pretty sure every book I’ve read uses adverbs.

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