noun: adverb; plural noun: adverbs
a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).
late Middle English: from Latin adverbium, from ad- ‘to’ (expressing addition) + verbum ‘word, verb.’
An adverb is a part of speech. The most common way of spotting one is when ly gets tacked onto the end of word. Examples could be: bitterly, egregiously, abusively or a host of others.
If you’re not a writer (maybe even if you are) you may wonder what’s wrong with using adverbs. You’ve probably seen them in every book you’ve ever read. (Stephen King famously hates them, but still uses them.)
See what I did there? Famously is an adverb.
So what’s wrong with adverbs? I could write a whole series of blog entries about why they act as red flags for writing teachers, editors and readers, but the most common complaint is that adverbs are only necessary on rare occasions. Only when conveying information not available in a better form should a writer consider using an adverb.
Hmmm…if you say so.
Now, I was taught this way, and I must admit adverbs show up on the page in bright red when I read them. I can’t help it. But one shy Texan who lived with his mother did not know this rule. He used adverbs without thinking about them, lots and lots of adverbs. Sometimes he used two adverbs back to back. And adjectives…my goodness did the man use adjectives.
In fact, every short-cut that might lead a writing coach, editor, professor or agent to shake their head and ‘tsk-tsk’ at the egregious missteps, this author committed them all. Sometimes gleefully, or so it seems now. One could say he violated every rule of good writing would-be authors are taught today. And let’s not go down the road of how politically incorrect he was…
So who was this wretched example of everything wrong with literature? And since he was so bad, how do we even know about him today? After all, he died 80 years ago.
We know him because he created an entire sub-genre of fantasy, one that has inspired countless authors, including some of my personal favorites such as Kark Edward Wagner, Michael Moorcock and Fritz Leiber.
This awful writer’s name was Robert E. Howard.
Yes, that Robert E. Howard, father of Solomon Kane, Kull, Bran mak Morn, Conan and dozens of others.
If somebody could prove a correlation between using adverbs and writing like REH, I’d willingly load my prose with beautifully and alluringly lurid adverbs that frighteningly and honestly painted my word pictures.