Fighting Against Adverbs

It’s been a long time since I’ve noticed a real war between writers and adverbs. I am sure you heard about it, also. Lately, we cannot even talk about a war because it was almost transformed into a rule in the Writer’s World.

Today I found a quote” The road to Hell is paved with adverbs”. These words are attributed to Stephen King. Whether this big author said it or not, I can’t know at this moment because he never told me these words directly, and all I know is that I see them written and attributed to him.

I am sure that if he said them, he also explained why he used such a powerful comparison.

In fact, I couldn’t remain in the unknown, and after I had seen these few words, I tried to identify what exactly Stephen King said about adverbs. I did it because… well… because I simply love adverbs. 🙂

After a short bit of research, I found this:

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s—GASP!!—too late.”Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Well… I have to admit… my Ego is “totally, completely” and dissolutely satisfied by the longer form of the quote.

Fighting Against Adverbs Mc Simon 1


Being a writer myself and using words to express my message to the readers, I started to wonder if I have the same opinion as the quote states.

Let’s take my case. I write both fiction and non-fiction. While, for the fiction genre I tend to admit that the quote is adequate, for my non-fiction writing I still use adverbs. Moreover, this pleases me, and I hope it also pleases my readers.

I wonder… if I were to take an example from one of my non-fiction articles and to replace the adverbs with other words, according with the general statement “show, don’t tell”… how would this sound?

Most of the non-fiction readers are busy people, who want to receive answers to their questions almost instantly. How would they sense my writing if I would start “showing them”, letting them develop their imagination… when they need a fast answer?


What if, for example, instead of telling my readers after doing a book review…

“You should buy the book, NOW!”

I would replace my call to action with, “You should buy the book, at the perfect moment when the dark past is already gone, and the bright future is yet to come.

Who knows? Maybe I would obtain some tears based on a deep awakening of their soul, or… maybe, my readers will gain a headache trying to figure out what the “hell” I just told them about what’s best to do.

But… my call to action… the goal to tell them that it’s for their interest to buy the book if they want to receive certain answers to their problem NOW … will become unnoticeable.

The Past, The Present, And The Future


Whenever I need to refer to a grammar issue, I like to refer to my favorite website dedicated to this domain…

Hmmm… a smile arose on my face just NOW… I never thought about this before but… can you also notice what I just saw? The war against adverbs is directed most of all towards the “ly” ending adverbs.

I just realized that my favorite website when it is about grammar… has a Grammar-ly name.

Fighting Against Adverbs Mc Simon


According to the definition found What are adverbs?:

Adverbs are descriptive words which are used to add detail to a sentence. They can give important or necessary information (e.g. Please hand me the scalpel now), or they can just make the sentence more interesting or detailed (e.g. A wind blew violently and unceasingly around the town). Adverbs usually modify verbs, and they frequently end in ly.”

The #1 Writing Tool


  • Adverbs answer the question how (e.g. How is the dog running?), as well as when, and where.

  • The adverb doesn’t have to go after the verb; feel free to vary the sentence structure…

  • Adverbs can also modify adjectives and other adverbs.


Now… kindly let me tell you briefly a few more words about adverbs. 🙂

We all know that many adverbs end in “ly”. This is the easiest way to spot an adverb. I don’t even feel the need to give some “ly” adverb examples. I can almost bet you can bring more of them to “the table”.

But let’s not forget that some adverbs tell something about where an event occurs.

  • Here, there, inside, outside, underground… are only a few examples.

We also need in our sentences construction to use adverbs that tell when the event happens.

  • Now, later, never, always, yesterday, tomorrow… are a few adverbs having this role. Should we mention here the “ly” words like… early, regularly, usually… are doing the same thing?


I already mentioned above that I simply love adverbs. I understand the war against overusing them, but at the same time I truly believe that adverbs are needed, and a writer should listen to his/her heart when choosing to use them.

As for me… most of the time I use adverbs as intensifiers. Yes, this is another role played by adverbs.


I absolutely refuse to follow a rule if my heart truly whispers to me that I should choose another road.

I Believe In Me

I am definitely not the “mob rules” type. 🙂


This reminds me of “old” times… or maybe not so old. 🙂

MOB RULES… do you also remember?

‘ “Mob Rules is the tenth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in November 1981. It followed 1980’s Heaven and Hell,…” ‘ writes Wikipedia.

Heaven and Hell Album… hmmm… did they sing about “the path to hell” and adverbs?

Heaven & Hell – The Mob Rules (Live At Radio City Music Hall, 2007)


  1. Avatar Of Wendy Tomlinson
    May 24, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Wendy Tomlinson


    To Adverb or not adverb? I don’t really care to be honest. Yes, I get the show and tell for fiction but like you say, for non-fiction our readers just want the information that’s going to help them the most.

    You call to action idea made me smile 🙂

    1. Avatar Of M.c. Simon
      May 26, 2015 at 3:55 am

      M.C. Simon


      Thanks for stopping by, Wendy 🙂
      You also put a smile on my face.

  2. Avatar Of Rich
    May 5, 2015 at 9:57 am



    three things:

    1. king was referring to the annoying trend of adverbs used in the attribution following a quote. for example:

    “Thanks very much,” she said smilingly.

    if you read, and i hope you didn’t, the “twilight” books, that type of attribution was used annoyingLY. i wanted to punch myself and anyone related to meyer. if i ever negativeLY about adverbs, it’s only when used following a quote because, when dialogue is written well, all you need is “he said” or “she said.”

    2. in “the shining” is one of the worst homemade adverbs ever – vibratorily. jack torrance was riding an old-fashioned elevator, the kind with the gate that pulls across the doorway, and the cage was rumbling down to the main floor when king wrote something like “the brass bar rattled vibratoriLY.” seems kind of contradictory of king to speak poorLY about adverbs after using one that seems put together crudeLY with duct tape.

    3. you touched on this, but adverbs are guilty of telling instead of showing. in your example, about the wind blowing violently – i would rather read how the wind ripped the aluminum roof from a toolshed and pinwheeled it through a greenhouse, sending shards of glass bouncing like noisy snowflakes off a nearby house. all that takes the place of “violently.” and it is better writing.

    1. Avatar Of M.c. Simon
      May 13, 2015 at 1:45 am

      M.C. Simon


      You made me smile, Rich! I didn’t read Twilight and any of Meyer’s books. But I have to admit that my daughter read all when she was ten or eleven.
      “Vibratorily”… Wow, you must be a genius using such words and still remain one of the best.
      Thanks for your comment! I realLy enjoyed it 🙂

  3. Avatar Of Lee Kelso
    May 5, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Lee Kelso


    Wow fellow friend with a big big imagination named M.C. Simon. My “eye” just read your article and I wish I could share all the connections that connected in my “third I” the one that absorbed the arrangement of the vessels of light or “the carriers” that help bring greater understanding to the fiction that is NON.

    I ask you up front to kind of read this as a puzzle as some of it may puzzle you while at other times you will “puzzle it”… meaning you will solve it.

    Ok that is some pretty crazy writing I will say but that is what rolled out of brain and slid down my nerves endings (which I am not sure really have any real ending to them but in this case they went to end of my finger tips and onto this keys on the board and eventually made it through the air into your domain for you to sample…. hopefully like a nice wine flowing down your esophagus.

    You see that if these words touch your heart to some degree and it being where you are then my nerves really have no end as I have such a nerve that desires to touch another’s heart in a way that would evoke joy and happiness.

    Now M.C. I really am trying to get on track here as this is really a great article and thank you very much.

    I perceive there doesn’t have to be a war between writer and adverb if one interjects that GOD IS A VERB!!! And if he and she are a verb just “AD” (ONE FOUR) and one will be able to build a greater awareness of who this entity man calls God really is.

    I am putting my perception on why SK likes adverbs and thus wrote “the road to hell is paved with adverbs” is that he saw to a degree what was inside of letters and words. I have not read this chap so I don’t “noa” for sure but I look into his name and you know that he had to do a lot of thinking about what was in a name especially his as he had to live with it for all of his life and yes I know he is still alive so I am just writing as if he had been.

    To the point in his name I see “a STEP (H is a ladder) EN (in) KING. So I am hoping that you are seeing that Stephen has stepped “ento” the Kings throne room and seen that there is light in both heaven and hell as I know from watching his movies that he has been to hell as well!

    If I am not turn to yOUR interesting thought posed…. “The past, the present and the further walked into a bar. It was tense.”

    First let’s lay on the “table of examination” or the “TOE” signifying the bottom or the soul or at least an attempt to examine things in order to get to the heart of the matter…. ok place on the “TOE” that there is no time as one has placed the 3 states of grammar on the “TOE” and now together…. they all walked “OUTSIDE” as BAR means OUT as it is a unit of pressure. If it meant IN how could there be any pressure.

    One last connection is in BAR I perceive…. “A (or one) PLAN (Convert B to Bet is a house plan) from THE HEAD (as Reish or Rosh is said to be the head and as proof of it usage we see the holiday Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish new year. And remember all is energy and it only converts so I guess that makes me a science writer. 🙂

    Now I have left a lot of sub thoughts out but I will end here with the word MOB and using the same thinking I used in the paragraph above…. MOB speaking of the more non-fiction thinkers here on earth…… in this word is MO (as in modus operandi) Bet or said another way they need more of the plan of fiction before they can rest inside and have peace that all will be alright.

    I listened to Black Sabbath which is an interesting combination of ideas B-lack (darkness) and Sabbath (resting in light) but we live in what is called a dark world. Any how when I listened to this song I saw the processes of the vapor compression cycle… death and darkness separation of molecules or spreading them out so as to show what is inside of the “heart.” And well we can see what is on the inside (of a room) after we stuff the heat into the refrigerant (the icy heart) and carry it outside and let it expand once again.
    <3 🙂

    Disclaimer: I realize I need to be better at using commas and I don't really know how so much as they slow down my thought process and well I understand that this can make it frustrating for the read but this is not my intent as I am talking to you in my heart and well we don't use commas when we are sharing heart to heart. But I will attempt to work at this potential flaw as it probably has an upside to it as well, not using the commas I mean. I wonder if there is thoughts penned already on this matter. 🙂 <3

    1. Avatar Of M.c. Simon
      May 13, 2015 at 2:55 am

      M.C. Simon


      Lee… my friend! Again you produced a piece of “art”. I repeat and I will always repeat… you should start to write daily and to promote your thoughts.
      B-lack? you blew up my mind with this! I never thought until now, but makes lot of sense to me 🙂

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