Adverb in Dialogue

As many writers will tell you, adverbs are of the devil’s script. We use adverbs to get our point across, to enhance sentences in our prose. I too, am guilty of this. I believe this is because of how we speak and communicate with one another. We use adverbs as part of our daily conversations to enhance our experience what we are talking about. Take the following sentences as examples.

“That movie was annoyingly slow”

“I really enjoyed the food”

“That guy/girl is super cute”

They sound like everyday sentences right? Now ask yourself, do the sentences make the same point, without the adverb? The idea when writing with adverbs is we want the reader to understand what we are saying. We want the reader to understand the emotion our characters are going through. If it is scary, we want them to feel fear, if it is romance, we want them to feel love. This is our goal right, to bring the reader into our stories? We should all have such ambitions. However, not every moment of a story needs added enhancement to get the point across. For instance, He shouted really loud for her to get down. This sentence is bad for a couple reasons. We understand that He is shouting, of course it is going to be loud. If there were some sort of danger, He would be emotionally charged, therefore his shouting would be really loud. Now look at the sentence minus the adverbs.  “Get down”, he shouted to her. Doesn’t this convey the same meaning with the same amount of energy? In dialogue especially, the less we junk it up, the easier it will flow. This is not to say that adverbs must never be used, but used sparingly.

As a challenge to us all, we should really take more care, when dutifully revising our amazing writing to weed out the unsightly adverb. Don’t believe me? Try it. let me know what you discover.

Good luck, and keep writing.

D.B. Flint

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