Using Adjectives and Adverbs
All writers want to make their work as vibrant as possible. Often, however, new romance writers will rely on the use of adverbs and adjectives to achieve their goal, rather than choose more descriptive nouns and verbs. As a result, the novel loses the very sense of vibrancy and strength that the writer hoped to accomplish.
Adjectives and adverbs are both modifiers, meaning they are the parts of speech that clarify or describe the subject and predicate. Adjectives modify nouns; adverbs perform the same function for verbs. To put it another way, think of adjectives and adverbs as the seasoning you'd add to a pot of soup. The core ingredients — vegetables, meat, pasta — are the nouns and verbs. Just as seasonings should enhance the natural flavor of the main ingredients and not overshadow them, so should adjectives and adverbs.
To see if you're overusing adverbs in your romance novel, have your word processing program search for all words ending in
Sometimes, problems arise from the use of adjectives and adverbs. Usually, this occurs when an author relies upon the modifiers to do the job of making their writing vivid when using more descriptive nouns and active verbs would have sufficed. For example,
Susan ran quickly down the hall: The adverb
quicklydescribes the verb ran; replacing the verb and adverb with a stronger, more active verb solves the problem; i.e., Susan raced down the hallor Susan sprinted down the hall.
The witch gave a harsh, sharp laugh: The adjectives
harshand sharpdescribe the noun laugh; since a “harsh, sharp laugh” is a cackle, the sentence can be rewritten as, The witch cackled.
Of course, eliminating all adjectives and adverbs from your writing would be as big a mistake as overusing them. After all, modifiers serve a valuable function — they clarify meaning and add color to your writing. The key is to use them selectively.