Improve your Writing Tip #1 - Favour strong verbs over adverbs

May 10, 2013, 1 Comments

Improve your writing

Adverbs are words that add color to a verb. In the sentence "The barrista quickly made a cup of coffee" quickly is the adverb.

Adverbs can be really useful, and sometimes indispensable, but often they are just used to prop up a weak verb. Use a strong verb instead. For example, use "stabs" instead of "pokes swiftly", or "meanders" instead of "wanders slowly". Scan your writing for adverbs and ask yourself "Is there a stronger verb I can use here instead?". Sometimes the answer will be no, but if the answer is yes then use it and your readers will thank you.

Stephen King likened adverbs to dandelions. He says, "If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day... fifty the day after that... and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late."

Mark Twain had a frozen indifference to adverbs. He said, "I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me. To misplace an adverb is a thing which I am able to do with frozen indifference; it can never give me a pang. . . . There are subtleties which I cannot master at all--they confuse me, they mean absolutely nothing to me--and this adverb plague is one of them."

You can easily highlight all the adverbs in your text with ProWritingAid so you can quickly scan them to check which can be removed. Try our writing improvement software.

If you want to search in a word processor such a Microsoft Word then you'll find that mot adverbs end in -ly so you can search for that followed by a space, or you can use our AddIn for Microsoft Word

Next improve your writing tip: Improve your Writing Tip #2 - Don't hide your verbs, rejoice in them

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  • Ratnachuda says
    Spelling 'you'll find that mot adverbs' ......................most.....
    Posted On May 22, 2016 | 10:27
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