no, i dont mean utterly

I never noticed adverbs until this year. I knew what they were – I diagramed as many stupid sentences as the next third grader – but I never paid any attention to them. It was the adjectives I loved…..Big…Blue…Boisterous….And used to excess….. Ugly….Uglier….Ugliest. Ughh.

I lost a writing contest at nine. Being the incumbent, and having sailed to a smooth victory the previous year with no planning or effort, I assumed the next big win was in the bag. I padded my story with what I deemed an appropriate number of colourful adjectives, and lost. Succeeded in victory by someone I like to call The Pretender to the Throne, (mine! mine! mine!) – Danny Linkous.

As second runner up I won a crappy white ribbon, fastened to my shirt with a rusty latchpin, and was told to try again next year. The Pretender got a blue one, much shinier than my own, and a free burger and fries. I was devastated. I collected blue ribbons and i loved burgers.

The problem, according to my 246 year old teacher, was the over use of adjectives in my writing. One or two per noun were sufficient, she said. Thirty seven were not (margin of error: + or – 5).

So yes, I’ve always been conscious of adjective overkill. But I never paid much attention to adverbs until recently. (Ha! Get it. Recently!) I hate them.

I have no idea why. But. Someone sure does love them. Sit down with anything from the NYTimes Best Seller list and you’ll see what I mean. Adverbs out the arse.

I’m not trying to be precious. I hate preciousness. I’m not trying to be ‘all literary’. I’m in this for the cold hard cash*. Make no mistake. But I friggin hate adverbs. I didn’t even like them when I was fifteen and into writing about horse thieves and pirates circa 1824 (Harlequin Romance Diet).

They’re like carbs. A few are good. Perhaps even necessary. Too many of them will make you fat.

* Not altogether true. I love to write. – loves it loves it loves it – I love it because it’s fun and because I can beeee something with it. Erm. Loves it.

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