If adverbs are to be avoided and are a sign of a “weak writer” then why don’t we just erase them from the English language? It’s funny to me that many an article on avoiding “purple prose” instruct writers to be “clear” in their language. Yet, those same articles will turn around and condemn you for using an adverb. I will agree, sometimes, there is a better choice of word available or a different sentence structure that would avoid the “evil” adverb altogether. However, I REALLY am against this trend to tell authors that LY words are bad and weak. Try getting through a day without using an LY word in conversation. “But conversation is not creative writing.” True, but if you want to convey things clearly why not use words and structures that are oh I dunno understood with ease by a multitude of folks?
The Bible has many passages that point to “all things in moderation”. I think that type of thinking can be applied to anything and everything…including your writing. In my newest book, Cursed Bloods, I used an online editing software to help highlight some of the things that may be repetitive or cliché in my work. One of those many tests included highlighting all the adverbs. It said to use them “sparingly”. I did manage to change or re-work about 150 of the adverbs. Yet, I left a few of the little devils in my work. (Less than 1% of all the words are LY words though!) Why? Because they just made the writing sound better both being read aloud and read silently. The job of the adverb is to ENHANCE the words you are using. Without them, key ingredients to mood and structure can be missing.
So, why would I tell you my new book is going to have LY words in it? Why would I make this stand that could label my new book as “not professional” before anyone has even read it? Because all the hate on the LY words is bothering me, that’s why. I kind of feel like a lot of internet pages these days are leading new writers astray. You know why else? Because I just scored Interview with the Vampire (my favorite book) in eBook form for $1.99 and saw my author idol using LY words. There is a sentence that uses thoughtfully and slowly in the same line! Sure, the book was written long ago, but I’m not talking just about the book IV. There is a special sneak peek of her newest book that is coming out in October. In that sample I found words like simply, early, utterly, lovely, finally, really, beautifully, and deliberately. Pretty sure a lot of those are adverbs. Pretty sure Anne Rice isn’t a crappy writer. The LY words are worked into the prose and actually ENHANCE the writing. Otherwise some of the sentences would just be flat.
My advice? Keep using LY words, but don’t always choose to use the same ones. Use the thesaurus on your computer. Change up the LY words you do use, but don’t use a twenty-dollar world when a five-dollar word will suffice. Use something like Pro Writing Aid or Hemingway App to highlight your adverbs and see if you can change up a sentence when you are editing to limit your LY words. Moderation. Not obliteration.