M.A. Wohl

Writer on a Quest

One night, the teacher in our creative writing class said: adverbs are bad.

I felt called out, probably like most of the others 20 years old students there.

I was (still am) very fond of adverbs. I loved their rhythm, the way they would make emotions, places, moments clearer.

That being said, I was more eager to become a better writer than to fight for adverbs. And since, according to my teacher, a great open-minded author, relying on adverbs was a clear sign of lazy, unimaginative writing, I promptly banned them.

For years, I avoided them whenever possible, and felt like a bad writer whenever I was using them.

Over the years, I learned how to make peace with adverbs. I used them less for sure. And when I do use them, I go through these checkpoints:

  • Is it making things clearer or confusing?
  • Is the sentence flows nicely?
  • Is the adverbs necessary here?

When in doubt, I read the sentence out loud. Tell you the truth, I often read out loud, just to see if I trip on words or need to take a breath in the middle of a sentence (a clear sign that there’s a punctuation problem somewhere, or that the sentence is way too long).

So there it is, short and sweet, my tested writing tip on how to make peace with adverbs.

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Until next time!

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