Adverbs are bad in fiction? Seriously?

my_pictureWhen you type “using adverbs in novels” in the Google Search box, you get the following first five results:

All of these articles imply that adverbs have cooties. They must be avoided, cut, used properly, or not used at all. Why do adverbs get such a bad wrap?

(Definition according to Wikipedia, which means it’s correct.)
1. a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).

In screenwriting, adverbs are considered a no-no. They are fluff. And in the world of film, fluff costs money.

But novels are different than scripts. To me, novels are a fluff-friendly environment. Case in point: there are scores of posts, articles, etc., devoted to fluffing up a lean manuscript to reach the coveted 80K word count. Yet a darling adverb deserves to be nixed? Hmm…

Case in point #2: How many times have you read a book that allots paragraphs to describe a tree, the weather, or a man’s bulging biceps? Some consider high-levels of description to be great word-smithing and applaud the use of details. If there were adverbs in those paragraphs, would they suddenly be ruined? Hmm… Perhaps if the description was for “hugely bulging biceps.”

Okay, so adverbs can be superfluous. But when the tone is right, I think they’re totally fine when used in moderation. See I just used one, and I don’t think anyone gagged. And if you did, sorry (not sorry).

Do you think it’s bad to use adverbs in fiction?


Published by Rene Penn

Author. Blogger.

2 thoughts on “Adverbs are bad in fiction? Seriously?

  1. Many times adverbs are used to beef up a weak verb when a stronger verb choice would be more effective. For instance, walked slowly vs. strolled. Other than that, I see no problem with using adverbs.

    Liked by 1 person

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