I've just come to the realization that I am an adverb slut. I need to figure out alternatives but for some reason I'm drawing a blank. Do you know of any resources or ideas on how to use adverbs less? Thanks!!
Think about how people speak in real life. Nobody directly says ‘I’m angry’ or ‘I’m sad’ or ‘I’m happy.’ You can tell just by looking at their face, body language and their tone.
Consider these three sentences:
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said angrily.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said sadly.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said happily.
It’s the same two words but you picture a different image based on that final adverb. However, this is less effective as this is more so telling how they feel rather than showing. And you know that age old writing rule…
Consider this change:
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said, through gritted teeth.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said, her voice cracking.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said, her eyes sparkling.
See? I’ve managed to describe exactly how they’re feeling without directly telling you the emotion. Same can be done with body language:
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said, balling her hands into fists.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said, burying her face into her hands.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she said, nodding her head.
Of course, here we’re still using that damned word ‘said’ which a lot of people seem to hate. I have no problem with the word said you are allowed to use it, so long as you don’t overuse it. Here are some alternatives:
- ‘I’m fine,’ she snapped.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she whimpered.
- ‘I’m fine,’ she laughed.
Easy! It’s a simple word and it shows us so much. The same could be done for describing actions:
- Walked —> Stomped
- Walked —> Tiptoed
- Walked - Skipped
Remember that adverbs are still OK to use sometimes. You don;t have to eliminate them from your vocabulary.