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The Absolutely Undeserved Hatred of Adverbs



Actually.

That's it.

I wanted to start with an adverb so just--Actually.

Actually, though, I do have some news. I was awarded the American Literary Merit Award for my short story, Your Sister's Wedding Reception. See award above post.


Where was I? Oh yeah. Actually adverbs get a bad rap from the writing community. Stephen King said, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." He'll probably write a thousand page book about it some weekend. He could have Automaton Adverbs rise from the River Styx and attack lost souls cast from Purgatory to Perdition or some such nonsense similar to the recent crap he's been putting out. We need another short story from him to inspire movies like The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. All in favor?

And then there's my hero, Elmore Leonard, who wrote, "Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange."

He's right, of course--to a point. I enjoy reading lines of dialogue from the classics such as, "You may look as you like, my dear," he said, deliciously. Now truly, really, doesn't deliciously imply something wicked about the dude's character? He's a slime-bucket and a pervert. Only an adverb could describe a character so completely.
The adverb is a gem and comes to its full potential singularly in the English language. In English the ly comes off the tongue like beautifully, lovely, carefully, constructed candy. But only in English.

For example, let’s look at the adverb, Darkly, first in English, and then in other languages.

English------Darkly.

Spanish-----Misteriosamente.

French------Obscurement.

Russian-----Mpayho.

Icelandic----dökkt.

So if you wanted to read your favorite poem, Through a Glass Darkly in Iceland, you'd lose some of that ardent emotion. Through a Glass Dokkleitar just doesn't cut it.


So fight the orthodoxy (noun, not an adverb) and spew those adverbs throughout your work, fellow writers, resolutely, magnificently. Throw caution to the wind and watch King and Leonard and your creative writing professor cringe--------excruciatingly.


Comments

  1. This blog absolutely needs a change of name. Seriously. Congrats on the award. Seriously neat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thinking of renaming it: "Even a Blind Hog Finds an Acorn Now and Then" Just kidding :) It's too bad writers and poets at the journeyman level like you and I are at have to beat our own drums at any success. The bragging is diametrically opposed to the introverted nature of our beast. Maybe we could pay others to espouse our virtues like best-selling authors do.

      Delete
    2. Yours can't qualify as bragging...there is an award. I am so amused/fed-up seeing people who have nothing to brag about beat a brisk tattoo on those drums :) the less they have to brag abt, the brisker. Deafening! :D
      Do please include a link to the story if/when it is available.

      Delete
  2. Here's the link. http://americanliterarymeritaward.com/-Your_Sister_s_Wedding_.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, John! Off to read now.

      Delete
    2. Okay, came back to say that I read and enjoyed the very detailed glimpse into a bit of sixties America. Liked the way you seamlessly handled the time switches. Thanks for a great read! Look fwd to more. :)

      Delete
  3. Congratulations! Facts do not a braggart make.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Danka. Or Merci. Read your latest on soccer. I wrote a satire on soccer http://www.helium.com/items/1695578-soccer-satire-beckham (It's always about me-what a shit) Anyway, thanks loads for the congrats.

      Delete
  4. Actually, I'm not a grammar nerd per se....so maybe I will never be published. Oh well, I saw your blog on LinkedIn and its great! I hope you visit me at TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperman! And hopefully, you won't comment so darkly on my latest post, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your blog is intelligent and intriguing. Congratulations on the Lieber Award. I was disappointed you weren't the reporter or Superman. I believe you're all three.

      Delete

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