sin boldly

Also subtitled, stop stacking adverbs for ‘extra precision’ and make up your mind already.

I should preface this thought: I am the worst offender you may meet in some time. I have an illicit affair with ‘clambered carefully’ and ‘the actual [noun]’, as if readers can’t distinguish being close to something and interacting with it directly. I feel the need to clarify points in time before all actions, less someone’s inner head-real be off by a few minutes or seconds.

Why is this a nasty habit? Because it’s cloudy writing. Because if the weather of your prose can’t change with the mood, someone is going to notice that it’s a static element, and therefore dead weight if used constantly.

Rather than presenting this idea as a rule (I still hate the writing-rules, never fear), I think that modifiers and description styles need to be examined and better understood, rather than defaulted to. Practiced, even. If anyone is willing to try out the idea, try a writing sketch in both styles and note the difference. (And let me know how it goes!)

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4 thoughts on “sin boldly

  1. Or simply accept that ripping out half the adverbs is something you’ll do in your final edit, and get on with your life. For me, it’s an unfortunate tendency to italicise every other word.

  2. We had a rule that we couldn’t use adverbs at all in one of my creative writing classes, and I have to say, that my writing style benefited from it A LOT. I think the rule goes back to the “show don’t tell” thing that we all hate so much, but cutting yourself off from the dreaded adverb can do something to force you into a different type of writing. I don’t think it’s better, by any means, but it certainly reads differently on the page.

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