The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Adverbs

No matter what you think about Stephen King’s work, his book On Writing is interesting and worth reading. Much of it has stayed with me, though I admit I’m not smart or talented enough to always follow his advice. His idea of digging in the archaeological pit for as many of the bone fragments as possible is a nice analogy for getting everything you can out of a scene, paragraph, or sentence. His belief that writers are born and not made is deflating. You can go from mediocre to good, if you work really hard at it, he says, but not from good to great. Ah well. One piece of advice I found particularly compelling concerned adverbs. He hates them and uses them only as a last resort. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll see why. They add emphasis, mostly hackneyed emphasis, to something which is already clear. King even eschews adjectives for the same reason. It’s a nice lesson, especially for me, since I tend to state the obvious rather too frequently. It comes from seeking clarity, but is insulting to the reader, who already knows much more than I think.