About Adverbs

editor/publisher of CommuterLit

Copyright is held by the author.

Fiction writing, like anything else in this world, is prone to fads and trends. And here I’m talking about writing styles and conventions, not subject matter.

For instance, creative writing mavens will frown in disapproval if you use too many adverbs — believing that you should ditch adverbs in favour of more precise verbs to convey action and character. It’s an interesting exercise to rewrite something you wrote a while back without the adverbs, using the verbs alone to describe the action. Try it, learn from it, but recognize that the “no adverbs” style is a trend in fiction writing. Many beloved and classic 19th century novels are full to the brim with adverbs.

So should you use adverbs or not? That will depend on the piece that you’re writing. If you feel strongly that adverbs are essential then by all means go for it. I would not stick so strictly to a trend, but I wouldn’t disregard the trend entirely. What appealed to the 19th century reader will not necessarily appeal to the 21st century reader or more importantly to today’s publishing gatekeepers — the editors, literary agents and publishing houses.