According to Stephen King, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Ernest Hemingway used almost no adverbs. In fact, scores of English professors have noted that adverbs are a sure sign of lazy writing.
I use them, I admit. Use them too much, probably. I often find there’s no better way to inject a bit of color into a character’s action than to add a nice juicy adverb. The writing guides (as well as Mr. King and those English professors) advise against it, of course. They suggest that a writer should always substitute a stronger verb for a weaker-verb-plus-adverb combo.
But I have to ask: is “So-and-so simpered” always better than “So-and-so said sweetly”? I think the answer is simple: sometimes yes, sometimes no. When I reach the editing phase of my book, I plan to look at every single adverb and see if I can replace it with a stronger verb. But in some cases, I’ll leave things as they are.
To me, adverbs are like the directions screenwriters must put in their scripts to tell actors how to say a certain line. I tend to write like I’m talking, and I want my readers to feel like they’re eavedropping on people’s conversations. And so, I believe, adverbs have their place.
After all, JK Rowling uses loads of adverbs in her Harry Potter books – and she’s the richest woman in England.