Adverb Murderer

I’ve been going through some of my first chapters in my WIP to kill of the adverbs (among many other things that need fixing!). As I go through, sometimes it is near impossible find a better way of expressing what that one little adverb says. I want to leave it. I really, really want to leave it!

I try to rearrange the sentence, experimenting with different words and phrases and realize after a LONG amount of time spent on it, I really like the adverb best.

I am reading one of my favorite authors, Lynn Kurland. Her new book, Till There Was You, is full of adverbs. Seriously, it has many, many -ly adverbs. I wonder if it is because she is a multi-published best selling author that allows her to get by with that. It doesn’t distract me from the book (well, since I am reading this one critically, it does) and it even adds to the flavor of it, if I were to be honest.

So my question is this, do you leave adverbs in because you like them? Or do you ruthlessly cut them out. Oh wait, let me rephrase that… Or do you cut them out like a maniac, murdering them them one by one?

14 responses to “Adverb Murderer”

  1. Sherrinda, this is a real pain, I know. I do my best to cut every one that I can, but there are always exceptions. Some are really necessary. As long as they are few and far between for beginner writers then I think we may still be able to pass the test, especially if clearly there is no better way to phrase it. Put the effort in to murder them, but those that won’t die, let them live.

    That’s the way I work, anyway.


  2. Ooh, and ANB is my A New Beginning story.


  3. They are a nuissance, aren’t they? Well… I write them in my rough draft – then during revision, I cut them. Some I leave – it’s not necessary to cut all of them. Best wishes with your murdering today!


  4. You probably already know my view on this! 😉 To break in as new writers we have to play by the rules. I don’t totally understand the compulsive need to eliminate all of the things we’re told we should. Of course we want crisp, strong writing, but at times I think we’ve gone overboard on the whole thing! All that to say, sometimes if you can’t find a different stronger word to use in place of an adverb, try leaving it out and seeing if the scene itself reflects what you were trying to say.

    Happy writing today!!


  5. Published authors have more lee-way than us pre-pubbed. Almost every “rule” I’m told is broken by writers who consistently put out books.

    Do I think every adverb needs to be cut? No. Should we try our best to find a better way to write the sentence? Yes.

    An easy way to find those pesky buggers is with your “Find” and “Replace” function in your word processor, but you might already know that!


  6. Adverbs seem to be BAD these days. Or viewed badly, at least. I think they’re fine if used in moderation and selected carefully. There ya go. Another adverb. LOL.

    They are an easy out for many new writers. An easy way to include description without much effort. In my edits I do a search for all -ly words and pick and choose which need to stay and which need to go. Great post!


  7. Slice and ice, make it nice!!!! Keep the adverbs sparce, Is sparce a word? 😉


  8. Eileen, few and far between, huh? That sounds like a good plan. And thanks for the clarification on ANB! I was stumped! ;0

    Katie, I love hearing others write them and cut them. Wish I could think in my head in good writing structure so it wouldn’t be so hard to revise! Oh, btw, I heard they all think you are so cute over on Seekerville! I love it!

    Jody, yes, I remember your email about this very thing. I too, think it is a strange, overboard reaction to -ly adverbs especially. But what do you do? You do what they want until you get published enough to warrant some rulle breaking!

    Jill, I recently was told about the “Find” and “Replace” buttons in Word! How cool is that! I did it for the word “that” and found 377! Yikes!

    Lady Glamis, I laughed reading your comment with the adverb. I think we all talk that way, why can’t we write that way? But you are right. I suppose it is just the lazy way.

    T. Anne, very nice poem! Catchy and easy to remember! And…sparce is a word. At least I’ve used in my current WIP (medieval…sparce sounds rather ancient, doesn’t it?)


  9. Dear Sherrinda:
    Editing and slicing unnecessary words is both fun and painful. I struggle with this, as well as the double standard that published authors can do just about whatever they like but us newbies have to walk a very narrow road.

    It’s the opposite of the Kingdom of God: the Father lets the babies get away with a lot of dumb mistakes, but He expects us seasoned believers to be more mature.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to preach; it’s in my blood to find an application under every blade of grass!


  10. Sometimes you have to use an adverb. Honestly, I think there is an unfair bias against them. Yes they can be over used but they do have a place in writing. If it fits, leave it. I’d be more concerned about your use of “that.” Most of those can be elminated.


  11. Ooo, I LOVE adverbs. Yep, they’re all over the place in my manuscript. Sometimes I’ll cut them out if they don’t flow right, like anything else, but otherwise I’ll just leave them in there because I like them so much. Probably my editor will not like it. We’ll see, I might have to behave a little better in the future.


  12. Listen to this, dear:
    “Sadly, there are probably relatively few people who actually end up boldly doing everything God has planned for them to do in life because of fear.” This is a quote from Joyce Meyer’s article entitled “Fear Got you Cornered?” in the May 2009 Life in the Word magazine. Joyce has written about a hundred books, is on tv all over the world, and God has used her mightily— oops, there’s one!– to change lives. So, if Joyce can salt her writing with a ton of adverbs, I think we can leave a few here and there!
    Shall we form a “Save the Adverbs” club?


  13. Jeanette, you can preach anytime on my blog! What an interesting insight about God giving the babes extra grace. Wish it were that way in the publishing arena!
    And OOooooh, I love the idea of a Save The Adverb Club! What a heavenly idea!

    Rene, you are so right about the “thats”. I use them sooo much! So far in my WIP, I have 377…just counted today!

    Cindy, how refreshing to find someone who loves the adverb and isn’t afraid to use them! Are you are about to published! I’ll be curious to hear if you have to take them out of your MS.


  14. Donald Maass made me really crank up the conflict in my books. The book I’m working on now seemed to gel better in terms of conflict. I love a good writing craft book!


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