Sunday, June 09, 2013

Adverbs? Quotes?

Just a note.

Yesterday I was asking elsewhere whether any authors had REALLY said, "All adverbs are bad, all the time" and someone posted that both Mark Twain and Stephen King had said it.

The trouble with internet quotes is, of course:

"Don't believe everything you see quoted on the internet"

Abraham Lincoln

Does anyone out there have access to actual quotes, not someone's internet post?

If you read the opening to Huckleberry Finn, there are about four adverbs in the first paragraph

and here:

First half page of King's The Green Mile 

was there, too, of course 
went out in a hurry 
finally hit home 
glared in the summer sun like a delirious eyeball 
waited until 
creeping around 
die under her free name 
dies of heart failure

She was going by as indifferently as she might have gone by a couple of cows. 

—Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

In SK's case I think he hates -ly adverbs. He uses adverbial phrases all the time and plenty of adjectives


Jim H. said...

Most workshoppers harping on the 'adverb' issue go back to an article by Elmore Leonard in the The New York Times, "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle."

The money quote: "4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said'' . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin."

Your point on this, however, is spot on. A judicious adverb can devastate.

Alex Keegan said...

Thanks for that Jim.

On thing that frustrates me is that authors in an interview might be slightly more extreme, then their words are sometimes "tweaked" by pundits until it appears said author has issued a blanket ban on X or Y or Z.

I'm still trying to source from primary sources, what Twain said. I know he didn't care for adverbs much, but he definitely used them, yet according to some people he wanted zero adverbs in the world.

ditto Mr King's anti-adverb stance (he uses plenty) which I take to mean he doesn't much like -ly adverbs