The Evil of the Adverb?

Using the Hemingway Editor, I was puzzled by the raging attack on the adverb.

YOU HAVE X ADVERBS! it screams at me. AIM FOR 1 or fewer!

That prompted a little google search. Was it really that dire? And I found:

Adverbs are the tool of the lazy writer
— Mark Twain

… the beastly adverb – far more damaging to a writer than an adjective.
—Graham Greene

Among other writings on the subject. I found both negative and positive rants about the subject.

But I took the message to heart and combed through my paragraphs. I noticed there were quite a few sprinkled throughout. A number of them were redundant. while I’m not convinced adverb deserve the outright indignation they appear to have attracted, there was often a  more engaging alternative.

So I agree that the adverb is a bit “lazy”. In a draft, it gets the idea across, no problem. But, I found it worthwhile considering there might be a more descriptive &a colorful word choice. It was enthralling to uncover a number instances where pale gray sentences burst into rainbows with just the drop of one little “ly”.

Still, all is not lost for the lonely adverb. They may be plain, but they are functional and can convey meaning quite clearly. The trick is not to become too complacent and overuse them, because you’re missing out on the joy of what a more delicious word could bring your table of words. I’ll enjoy hacking and slashing my way through my manuscript int he coming weeks!


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