Stephen King believes the road to hell is paved with adverbs. Most editors and writing teachers hate adverbs as well. I agree that an adverb is superfluous most of the time, but when used in the right place, it can be effective.
Barbara Baig, who teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University, defended the poor adverb in an article in Writer’s Digest. “To advise young writers to get rid of all their adverbs is like advising a pitcher with four great pitches to throw only three of them—it’s professional suicide,” she wrote. Baig is the author of “Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers.”
Some writers and editors ban adverbs. I’m not one of them. As with most things in life, moderation is key. Don’t use adverbs as a crutch, and don’t kill all of them either.
10 Great Quotes with Adverbs
I’ve rounded up 10 great quotes from authors who dared to use adverbs in their novels.
“Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
“The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
“Mrs. Dalloway,” Virginia Woolf:
“He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.”
“House of Mirth,” Edith Wharton:
“She was so evidently the victim of civilization which produced her, that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate.”
“A Room with a View,” E.M. Forster
Indirectly, by means of tact and a spotless name, a lady could accomplish much.
The night is cold. It is piercingly clear.
“Atonement,” Ian McEwan
She didn’t forgive him, she simply gave up.
“Cold Mountain,” Charles Frazier
The world was such an incredibly lonely place and to lie down beside him, skin to skin, seemed the only cure.
“Heir to Glimmering World,” Cynthia Ozick
He was German—densely, irrevocably German.
The red shoes batted around in his brain like flies. Could a pair of scarlet shoes render him so hopelessly smitten?
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