Did you spot the adverb in that sentence? Should I have expressed that better? Differently? Ooops - "better" and "differently" - there go two more!
I have blogged about the poor use of adverbs before. Once in a post about "over-writing", because adverbial diarrhoea is part of that. And once in a post about the importance of showing more than telling.
It would help if you were to skim those posts to see the contexts, but I will quote from the second post here:
1. Go easy on the adverbs. Adverbs, used lazily, are an immature writer's stock in trade. Yes, they roll off the tongue, but so does dribble.
Let me elaborate on why it is absurd to claim, as I have heard people do, that adverbs are bad. (And after that I will show you how bad they can be in the hands of certain writers.)
Take the second sentence of that extract: "Adverbs, used lazily, are an immature writer's stock in trade."
The adverb is, of course, "lazily". (By the way, "of course" works as an adverbial phrase, as you'll see if you replace it with a true adverb: "obviously". Are you going to tell me that using it was bad? It's not bad, because it says what I want to say accurately and succinctly. OMG - two more adverbs! Slapped wrist, naughty author!)
Anyway, back to lazily. "Adverbs, used lazily, are an immature writer's stock in trade." Would you suggest that I should have avoided this adverb?
If I'd left out the adverb, we'd have been left with. "Adverbs, used, are an immature writer's stock in trade", or, more normally, "Adverbs are an immature writer's stock in trade." But they are not. So it would be wrong. What I am trying to say is very simple:
"Listen," she whispered conspiratorially.with:
"What?" he interrupted eagerly.
"Nothing," she replied, hesitantly, deciding that she was not going to tell him after all.
She leant towards him, her hair brushing his cheek. "Listen. I ..."Well?
His pulse quickened. "What?"
Carmelle took a breath. She paused. What if her informant was wrong? She shook her head, looked down at the stem of the glass pressed between her fingers. "Nothing."
She walked slowly through the woods, stopping occasionally to pick a flower, sadly thinking back to the time she'd walked here with her young daughters. Their cheeks had glowed rosily after a late summer picnic, and she could picture the hair sticking damply to their foreheads. The air had been heavy with birdsong then, but now the silence fell eerily around her and suddenly she felt a chill pass down her back. All things pass, she told herself.
- Slowly wouldn't be necessary if more care had been taken to choose a better verb than walked.
- Occasionally is fine and necessary, though it would be better if we actually saw her do it once and the rest of the thoughts happened during this one moment of flower-picking.
- Sadly shouldn't be necessary from the context of the para and if the rest of it were written better.
- Rosily is tautologous after glowed and damply is pretty obvious or would be unnecessary if the foreheads were described as sweaty (or something).
- Eerily is not too bad but I'd rather be shown other aspects that made me know it was eery, without being told it so obviously.
- And suddenly is a word which should only be used when there is no alternative - here, it could be omitted without loss of meaning. And, therefore, should be.