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This is part 5 in a nine part series on showing instead of telling.

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 1

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 2

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 3

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 4

Currently reading Part 5

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 6

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 7

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 8

Show, don’t tell Tip #4: Cut down on your adverbs

So you know I don’t like adjectives. We’ve talked about getting rid of those for the last two tips. Now we turn our attention to adverbs.

 

Cut those out too.

 

Remember, adverbs are describing words. They modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Here’s a few common adverbs: quickly, excitedly, hurriedly, slowly, carelessly, very, extremely, etc. Adverbs answer questions like: how? when? where? why? how often?

 

When you find adverbs in your writing, your should trim them down. It’s not that adverbs are bad. They just make your writing flabby.

 

Here’s an example:

“He ran very quickly.”

 

In this sentence, both very and quickly are adverbs. Quickly modifies ran, and very modifies quickly. 

 

The problem is both of these adverbs are unnecessary. This sentence is much better:

He sprinted.

 

One good verb says what it took two adverbs to say awkwardly.

Try it out!

Now, take a look at your own writing. Go ahead, grab something you’ve written. Creative writing is probably best for this exercise since we tend to use more adverbs when we are writing stories.

 

Skim through your writing and look for every adverb. You can look for some of the examples above, or you can Google “list of adverbs” and look for those.

 

If you see a very, kill it! Kill it very quickly (see what I did there?)!

 

Try to find one good, specific action verb to replace the adverb.

 

And when you’re done, move on to the next tip.

Read More

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 1

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 2

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 3

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 4

Currently reading Part 5

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 6

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 7

Read Show, Don’t Tell—Part 8