We all hear it, all the time. “Use stronger verbs. Get rid of adverbs.”
“But I love my choices of adverbs!” you say. “They add so much!”
Let’s take the classic example: “He walked across the room.”
Okay, add strength. “He walked forcefully across the room.”
Consider: “He strode across the room.” Now we have forcefulness.
“He crossed the room in three strides.” Now we have force plus a concept of distance.
“He shuffled across the room.” Is he using a walker?
“He freighted his bulk up the stairs.” A big guy, right?
Another common one: “She looked at the man.”
Let’s add surprise.
Consider: “She looked with surprise at the man.”
“She gawked at the man.” She’s taking an open-mouthed gander!
“She glared at the man.” Anger!
“She studied the man.” A thorough look.
“She ogled the man.” Good butt, huh?
One more: “He ate the cake.”
“He enjoyed eating the cake.” Okay, but…
Consider: “He gobbled the cake.” Must be chocolate!
“He picked at the cake.” Not so great a cake?
“He nibbled at the cake.” A polite eater.
“He sucked down the cake.” A teenager, perhaps?
Now go to your work in progress. Find ‘walked,’ ‘looked,’ and ‘eat/ate.’ Add some oomp to those verbs, and send the adverbs to lunch!
A hint: a Thesaurus is a writer’s best friend!