Here at the Blood Red Pencil we have discussed the use of adverbs already, but this is a subject well worth another reminder.
First let me say emphatically that ADVERBS WEAKEN WRITING. Case in point is my use of an adverb here. My statement was very emphatic and I didn't need to point that out with the adverb. Any time we do that when it is not necessary is an insult to the reader. It's like were telling him or her that they aren't smart enough to figure out the subtle nuances of behavior or dialogue without a not so subtle hint.
For example, consider these few lines of dialogue from book I recently received to review:
"Hi Jesse," Evie waved back excitedly. --- How does one wave excitedly? Wouldn't it be better to show the excitement?
"My dad has to go," Jesse said sharply. --- This was in response to another character inviting Evie to visit later and meet Jesse's father. The terseness of Jesse's comment has the sharp edge and doesn't need the adverb.
"We know where we're going," Theresa said adamantly. --- Here again the dialogue is already adamant. She is responding to Jesse's father who said the young people couldn't leave without him.
And again later in the same scene....
"Then we'll take a bus," Jesse said defiantly. --- This is a contrary response to the previous line of dialogue and the defiance is clear in the words.
These are just a few examples out of a book that was overrun with adverbs. Not that adverbs are bad. Just the overuse of of them. There are times when we will want characters to speak softly, or touch someone gently, but we shouldn't qualify every line of dialogue and every action.
Maryann Miller is the Managing Editor of WinnsboroToday.com, an online community magazine, and a reviewer for Bloggernews.net and ForeWord Magazine. Her latest books are One Small Victory and Play it Again, Sam. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.