Strengthen writing by replacing adverbs

Adverbs are words that typically describe a verb (Though they also can describe adjectives and other adverbs, which can be a real symptom of a bloated passage.). For example, in the sentence “He walked quickly across the deck”, “quickly” is an adverb because it describes or modifies “walked”, the verb.

The sentence could be tightened by dumping “quickly walked” and replacing it with a stronger verb. “Strode” – which indicates a brisk walk – might work better. The sentence then would read, “He strode across the deck.”

If you’ve got a lot of adverbs in a passage, you’re probably relying too much on that part of speech to do the hard work in your sentence. Adverbs, however, aren’t the muscle that an exact verb provides. While you may need to use an adverb on occasion, our language generally is broad enough that you can find the right verb.

So trim the fat in your writing and build a buff sentence capable of delivering a right hook to your reader. Or as Strunk and White famously advised with another metaphor, remember that “an adverb is a leech sucking the strength from a verb.”


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.