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The Horse Galloped Past an Adverb

A year ago, my writers’ group talked about using strong verbs to make adverbs unnecessary. This was news to me.

What’s an adverb? In one sense, it’s a word that describes a verb. For example: the horse quickly ran. But maybe we could say, “the horse galloped” and then we wouldn’t need an adverb. See the stronger and more descriptive verb?

For example: The children cheerfully rode their bikes down the hill.

Instead: The children laughed as they breezed down the hill on their bikes.

It’s a bit more descriptive, right?

Another example: The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the room.

Instead: The coffee pot gurgled and steamed, and the aroma filled the room.

I came across a short lesson about using strong verbs in the workbook, Wordsmith: Craftsman, by Janie B. Cheaney (p. 37), and I thought, okay, here’s more talk about this, I'm listening.

Janie says her writing curriculum is “for building, integrating, and polishing practical writing skills” (p. 2). Polishing, that’s a descriptive verb! I hope my writing shimmers as I utilize the above technique and choose verbs that give the reader room to decide what to think and feel, instead of me telling them.


Writing Prompt: Pretend you’re at a baseball game. Describe what you see, smell, hear, and feel, but avoid using adverbs.



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