The Great Adverbectomy

surgical-instruments-150x150When I first began writing, my words flowed and dripped onto the paper like sweet honey. Writing was so easy. All I had to do was write a great story, and publishers would clamor to print my work. Who needed to read books on writing, or have writing partners, or attend writing conferences?


I wrote completely without guidance, operating my keyboard without training wheels. After several manuscript rejections, I found much-needed help through a critique group.

My first writing mentor addressed a problem. Since I had enough adverbs in my first paragraph to send an editor into shock, they were removed.

Gasp. Wheeze. Whimper. I loved my adverbs. They were astonishingly, beguilingly, charmingly, alluringly wonderful.

After recovering from shock, I went home, and held a small service in their honor. Lovingly, longingly, I took one final look at my Word document before starting my search.

Weepingly, I sought for any word ending in the dreaded, tell-tale “ly” and my page lit up like a Christmas tree. They were everywhere. No longer did they look as innocent. Goodness, they had infiltrated a perfectly, decently written document and created something abnormally, agonizingly, alarmingly irritating.

My work headed to the verb gym for a total manuscript makeover. Wow, who knew training could create such a lean document.

Yes, the great adverbectomy was a touch painful. And although at times I may gaze longingly at my adverb buddies, my manuscript and I are both better without them.

Got adverbs?

They may not be as pretty as you think. Check them closely, they may be holding your document hostage.


Lisa Buffaloe is contributing author for The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter. Her articles have appeared in Angels on Earth magazine, as well as Guideposts, Rest Ministries, (in), and others. She’s an active member of writing organizations and critique groups, leads Bible studies, and speaks to writer and women’s groups. Her manuscripts have placed as finalists in the 2011 Women of Faith and the 2010 ACFW Genesis writing contests, and won awards with other distinguished writing contests. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.


12 thoughts on “The Great Adverbectomy

  1. Great post, Lisa. Love your humor and the illustrations of your point within the article. Oh, and I love good adverbs, too. My aunt was the first person to read any part of my first novel other than my parents and she took it on herself to tell me about adverbs, in a kind, loving way. I didn’t think she was right … until I learned she was! Ha!


    • Thank you, Becky! Goodness, I still have so much to learn. Writing is a wild process, isn’t it? Every time I submit an article, I see ways I could have (and should have) written it better. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this Lisa. I have a huge stack of writing books on my table, evidence of my desire to learn to write well. I don’t have the advantage of a writer’s group, but articles like this one are so helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *