Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Too Many Shoes, Part 1
Some of you out there may argue that one can never have too many shoes, but I beg to differ. When your closet becomes so cluttered that you can't find what you're looking for, perhaps you have too many shoes. Most of us know that the use of adverbs in our writing is frowned upon. Yet we read many books (some of which have made their way to the NYT's Bestsellers list) that use adverbs in abundance. So why can't we use them? Well, it's just another one of those contradictions. In case you want to know, here's my opinion: Adverbs in and of themselves aren't bad. What makes them bad is when they are used to tell rather than show. In other words, if a sentence can be rewritten without using an adverb and still get across the same meaning, by all means, get rid of the adverb. For example, you could say this: I stepped lightly across the living room carpet. Or, you could say this: I tip-toed across the living room carpet. (Okay, I know not great examples, but I'm not quite awake yet.) Anyway, my point is that you can have too many adverbs. One way to avoid that is to try to rewrite sentences without using the adverb. I think you will find that your writing is stronger and is more likely to show and not tell. I'm not saying that every adverb needs to go, but I do think their use should be limited. What do you think of adverbs? Do you have a love/hate relationship with them like I do?