When One Verb Just Won’t Do

Adverbs. Who would have thought these pesky little grammatical creatures could be such a nuisance? On the surface, they sound quite fun, almost like a useful tool when one verb just won’t do. Say, if you were running juggling.

I was vaguely aware of their existence but wasn’t entirely sure what they were. Similar to Vitamin B, I know it exists and probably plays a role in my life, but I have no idea where it comes from or what it is.

For those of you who don’t know – and there’ll be at least one person, it can’t just be me – an adverb is something that modifies the meaning of a verb or adjective.

For instance:

he moved quickly,

his heart beat furiously

The ‘ly’ word is modifying the verb ‘ran’ and ‘beat’ and gives it context. I always thought it was quite useful until I found out that it also provides a context of the type of writer, i.e. not a very good one.

Now, just like you, I initially scoffed at this suggestion – I play by my own rules, baby. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It can be considered a lazy form of writing, telling as opposed to showing the reader. A strong verb is better than a week verb with an adverb thrown in to beef it up.

Using our earlier examples:

he dashed

his heart pounded

It provides a better sense of context without spelling it out. As Stephen King apparently says “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

(Hopefully, by this point you’ll get the little joke I snuck into that sentence)

Now, I bring all this up because this nugget of grammatical knowledge would have been useful to know about six months ago, when I started writing a collection of horror stories. This post was meant to be an announcement of my new website and a load of books you were now able to download and buy.

Instead, I’m having to go through seven novellas removing 95% of words that end in “ly” and replace them with more interesting verbs. I guess it’s all part of the learning curve.


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