Originally Posted by phenomshel
What the freakin' heck is wrong with adverbs? Stephen King insists the "way to hell is paved with adverbs", my English Comp. professor quotes him constantly, and me, I'm left thinking that adverbs are surely part of the English language for a reason...
I'll be the first to tell you I am NOT a writer. However, neither am I illiterate, I can get my point across when need be.
Some of you writers enlighten me, please?
Stephen King objects to many things in his book "On Writing", it's a pity he doesn't follow through on those self-made rules most of the time. That minor irritant aside, what I think he's driving at is passivity and unclear writing when he mentions adverbs.
Take for instance these two sentences:
1. He ran quickly
toward the burning building.
2. He ran toward the burning building.
The problem with the adverb in this sentence is that it's not needed, it's redundant as it is in many cases. To run is to move with speed, you can't run slowly. To run slowly is to jog. It would be the same as using "He jogged slowly.' The adverb is also used in a lazy fashion in place of actual, in-time events. Like a shorthand for actual descriptive action.
walked to the far side of the room.
Chest out, chin high, all the importance of his position in each step, he strode to the far side of the room.
But more so, I think King is talking about speech attribution when he talks of adverbs. Again two more examples.
1. "I'm sick and tired of this bullshit!' Pico said angrily
2. "I'm sick and tired of this bullshit!" Pico said.
We don't need to know Pico is angry, his words provide that emotion, and so should his actions, interior monologue, the framing of the events within the story.
I think, but I'm not a hundred percent sure on this, but the common -ly ending of a lot of adverbs have their roots in a German word for dead, or corpse. A linguist would be able to tell you more about this, I only remember it in passing.
It's been a long time since I've thought consciously of grammar when I write, but I seem to remember when an adverb is used in attribution it is also known as a "Swifty". Actually
, that might be in "On Writing"
Here's a few more examples from my own writing:
How it might be written (if you were insane)
1. The machine rose threateningly
above the horizon. The machinery no longer turned. Its eyes were shut, positively
How I wrote it (and I am insane)
2. Looming over the horizon, the machine was as silent as shadows. The great turning of secret and hidden guts no longer turned. The burning fire of its eyes extinguished, closed in the dead weight of mechanical sleep.