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Adverbs, we are told by the experts, ruin our writing. They are the mark of the amateur.

There are fashions in creative writing rather like there are in cooking. (Just now chilli is everywhere; it’s hard to find a recipe or a menu choice without it. Not good if you aren’t too keen on a burning mouth and throat, but never mind, in a few years it’ll be some other ingredient). But is the wholesale rejection of adverbs here to stay or just the current creative writing bandwagon?

I don’t like feeling bossed into following a writing style recipe, but after having a go at getting rid of all the adverbs from a story I have to admit that the anti-adverb brigade has a point. I hadn’t realised how these -ly words had crept in – and weren’t actually needed. Lazy writing? Well, yes. Cutting them out or creating original images to give the same effect – even if this meant using several words rather than the one adverb – gave the writing a fresher, cleaner and sharper impact. It was also a surprisingly enjoyable and imaginative exercise.

I wonder if competition judges and agents stop reading when they come upon an adverb?

 

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