Good vs bad adverbs

Back in 2018, I did a post on adverbs that I need to expand on.

I talked about how writers should use adverbs sparingly. Don’t overcoat your work with them, because it slows your story down. But I never talked about the good vs bad adverbs.

Bad adverbs are like smiled happily. Or fiercely killed him. Or softly whispered. Readers can already tell she’s happy because she’s smiling. Killing someone is already fierce, and whispering is already soft. These adverbs don’t add much to the story but rather explain what’s going on twice.

Usually, the best way to fix a bad adverb is to upgrade the verb. I murdered him instead of I fiercely killed him. I quickly ran becomes I dashed or I sprinted.

I also recommend taking the adverbs out before you do a read through. Sometimes adverbs seem like they’re needed. We don’t realize how much we don’t need them until they’re already gone. Take out the adverbs, wait a few days so you don’t remember where they were, and read over your work one more time. Most likely, you won’t remember where they are, and you’ll have a smoother read.

Good adverbs, on the other hand, are like smiled sadly, gently shoved, or loudly whispered. They contradict each other in a way that gives the words a new meaning. They let the reader see new, complicated emotions.

Hopefully this helps! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Good vs bad adverbs

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