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The Gypsy Pall


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Does Stephen King Hate Adverbs?

Stephen King said, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs."
I understand this, but don't necessarily agree. It's true that too many adverbs can make your writing seem amateurish and lacking in real content. However, I happen to like a well-placed adverb. If a character walks, I'd like to know how he walks. Does he walk softly? Does he walk crookedly? Does he walk briskly or slowly? I suppose a writer could find a different word than "walk". Skips, strides, glides, sneaks, tiptoes, etc. But sometimes a plain and simple verb works best, with a nice ripe adverb to make it tasty.
If you were to peruse Stephen King's books, I'm sure you will find adverbs. And I think I know what he meant in this quote. He is a talented and prolific writer and could not possibly be suggesting that we never use adverbs. I think he is suggesting we use them like a spice, sparingly and for flavor without overwhelming the literary palate.
Apparently Mark Twain shared this distaste for adverbs as well.

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