10 April 2007

Get your adverb here!

Last week a friend of mine sent me YouTube files from School House Rock. When we worked together, we’d joke about them, but she now uses them in her classroom. Never underestimate the power of the 70s!

My all-time favorite is Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverb Here! In re-watching the 3 minute clip, I remembered why I love adverbs so much.

Come on down to Lolly's, get the adverbs here!
You're going to needIf you write or read,Or even think about it.

An adverb is a word
(That's all it is! And there's a lot of them)
That modifies a verb,
(Sometimes a verb and sometimes)
It modifies an adjective, or else another adverb
And so you see that it's positively, very, very necessary.

You always hear about how Stephen King doesn't use them or how you shouldn't have them in your ms. Why? They’re great words, and often make the sentence you want that much more descriptive. I'm not a fan of the overly flowery sentences that clearly needed to be cut in fourths to make sense. And I think using them isn't a matter of looking in the thesaurus and 'inserting here' just for the hell of it.

But you think with adverbs, and you use them in speech, so why shouldn't they be in an ms. that normal people who also speak and think that way are going to read?

What's your view? Spartan and minimalist? Or descriptive? Or don't you care?

1 comment:

Michelle Styles said...

When they become a crutch, they become a problem.

Adverbs can easily be overused.
Self Editing for Ficiton Writers (Browne and King) which is another source for anti-adverb. But they are not really. they point out the problems of using them as a speech qualifier.

Also often times, adverbs tell without showing. He said swiftly. Or she mopped the floor angrily. Sometimes, you need that and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you have to resist the urge to explain. And an adverb can dim the impact as you start telling the story.

It is all about proportion. Does every adverb justify its existence. I am more apt to use adverbs when I am writing my first draft. Then I go back and edit, see if there is a better way.

Many many v sucessful authors use adverbs all the time --JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett spring to mind.