Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly

I'm not talking about an ice lolly, though I'd like one right now!

I'm talking about Father, Son, and Lolly.
Not familiar with Father, Son, and Lolly? Click below!

So, those are the Lolly's. I hear they make lousy profits giving away all those adverbs. But with the economy the way it is and everyone cutting every -ly word they come across, the Lolly's are a bit hard up. They can't even afford to cut Little Lolly's hair.

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

Allow me to say a few things in favor of the often-scorned adverb ("The road to Hell is paved with adverbs." -Stephen King)

An adverb is a word. That's all that it is and there's a lot of them.

I like adverbs.
There I said it.

When I am describing something that breaks from the normal (unusually quiet, laughed nervously, etc) I like to hug and kiss my adverbs (don’t laugh!) because they can be so beautifully concise.

It’s a Slippery Slope

The danger with adverbs is that we walk into Lolly's Inc., expecting to just pick up a couple of modifiers that we know that we already need, but if we aren't careful we come out with armfuls and armfuls of tantalizing adverbs. Actually some aren't even tantalizing, we just grabbed them because we were too lazy to figure out if we really needed it or not. Sometimes we grab them because we know we have a couple of boring verbs sitting around the house that could really use modifying (like 'ran' *yawn*- but if I add "hastily"!)
Anybody else thinking this sounds like them in Costco?

Now some people are smart and they go through everything that they have and bring back the adverbs that are excessive (Lolly's Inc. has a generous return policy.) BUT how much better if we learned not to grab some of these superfluous expenditures in the first place?

What is to be Done?

A company that Lolly Inc. has always seen as an aggressive competitor, Strong Verb Industries, recently teamed up with Tips & Tricks, a non profit, to assist people in recognizing times that they don’t actually need to “get your adverbs here.”

Below is one of their exercises:

He ran quickly to see her.
“Don’t leave me!” he pleaded pathetically.
She clearly didn’t care. She had very little to lose by carelessly turning her back.
His face burned hotly and he was really tired of playing these games.
She turned back, smiled her beautiful smile mystically and greedily took his flowers.
He was quite sure, as he watched her wolfishly walk away, his heart would never mend back together again.

-Can you locate at least one redundant adverb? (e.g. tiredly slept)
-Can you locate at least one lazy adverb? (They don’t add much to the verb e.g. so fast, very neat)
-Can you locate at least one moment of adjective/adverb overkill?
-Can you locate at least one completely unnecessary adverb?
-Can you locate the loathsome speech-tag adverbs, which get very distracting?
-Can you locate at least one bad-verb-to-start-with adverb? (Your VERB choice is weak so you compensate with an adverb. e.g. proudly walked)


Study brought to you by Strong Verb Industries. Please visit our website if you want to see a really cool list of strong verbs. CLICK HERE


Even understanding all of this I just love dropping into Lolly’s Inc. Running my fingers thoughtfully across some scrumptious adverbs, chatting pointlessly with Lolly Sr., and eyeing that intensifier I’ve really, really wanted.

Enrich Your Language with Adverbs!


  1. If adverbs were good enough for JK Rowling, they're good enough for me!

    When I first wrote, I used way too many. But I don't get too crazy about getting rid of all of 'em. Sometimes, only an adverb will do.

    I also love commas.

  2. Oh, I miss School House Rock! I think adverbs are like alcohol, meant to be enjoyed in moderation.

  3. I think the adverb warning system is a bit touchy, but sometimes total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation. And after reading many new writers, I'd say that the complete eradication of adverbs makes for a much better story. That being said, I agree that adverbs are useful and they can do wonderful things when used sparingly by a writer who first learns how to get along without them.

  4. I love me some adverbs, which means I can't help but love the Lolly's! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I read a book recently littered with adverbs--like 10 to a page. All I could think was "Why does this author get to use adverbs and I don't" **pout**. But I will say that working to removed as many adverbs as I can has made me a much better writer. Thanks for the post. I love School House Rock :)

  6. Why do they have to be so bad? They're so pretty...

  7. The thing I try to remember with adverbs is that they're a form of laziness: they manifest most often when I don't want to go to the trouble of setting up the scene so that the meaning conveyed by the adverbs is already obvious.

    I'm trying to fix that monster sentence so that it makes more sense, but can't. Sorry. :)

  8. Well said Robin Weeks. Read a book just the other day where it had 68 instances of the word Suddenly. That was just one adverb. I also read a book by a NY best selling author and it contained two adverbs. In fact most NYBS don't use them often. That says alot.

  9. Anonymous--Shoot! Suddenly is an adverb?? (No, I didn't just search my WIP and find 48 of them suckers.) Dang you!

  10. Robin Weeks. It's not but I tend to lump it in anyway

  11. Yes, it's always easier not to buy Adverbs in the first place. You'll probably be better off as a new writer to return as many of those pesky things to Lolly, Inc. as you possibly can.

  12. As with most things, everything in moderation. A well-placed adverb is still an effective use of language.

  13. Sadly, I didn't even realize that adverbs were the enemy until a few months ago. My mother-in-law read my WIP, and one of her (many) suggestions to improve was to cut the adverbs... Awareness is the first step, right?

  14. Excellent explanations. I don't think adverbs have to be eradicated completely. In many ways they keep things simple. We just don't want to make things so simple we simply simplify things clearly :)

  15. Hmmm, I have a lot of returning to do... anyone want to go to Lolly, Inc with me?

    Great post! And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  16. Hi, I just popped in to say hello, great blog, congratulations!
    I'll follow you.
    You can visit mine if you feel like.
    Cheers from Argentina!


  17. This was a whole lotta fun to read. Thank you for posting. I'll check out the link you gave.


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