Why is Using Adverbs Considered Bad Writing?

Someone out there is now accusing me of being tiresome and anal-retentive. I deny it. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. --Stephen King, On Writing

In my humble opinion, adverbs are bad because Stephen King said so.

And then everyone pounced on the idea.

Including myself.

Maybe we took it out of context, maybe we took the idea too far, but now every time I see an adverb in his writing, it takes me out of the story.

Not because it’s an adverb, but because it was used by Stephen King.

Dare I say it was used masterfully?

Is this a master knowing when to break the rules? Could adverbs serve a purpose?

Or did these rules serve to remedy a trend in amateur writing, and we have now frivolously made them doctrine?

Don’t get me wrong, you can find any sentence with an adverb and change it to something else but the betterness of the sentence would be subjective. In my opinion, simple and clear language can suit copy just as well or better than “stronger” verbs, but let’s put that to the test:

Did my use of adverbs and passive tense in this post jump out at you? How many adverbs? How many times did I use the passive tense?

Did the keywords? What are the keywords I used?

If you have to go back and check, I don’t know if we can say that they distract from the writing or the point I’m humbly hoping to make.


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