I love Marcia Yudkin's book 6 Steps to Free Publicity and her weekly newsletter. This one hurt, though. It's easy for me to delete these adverbs from my clients' statements and bios, but much harder to remove from my own text.
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brought to you every Wednesday by Marcia Yudkin
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Luckily there isn't a Committee to Defend the Adverb. Because today, readers, I implore you: Whenever you see one in your prose, pull it over to the side and grill it about whether or not it has a legitimate reason to be there. If not, hurl it into the bushes. Stamp it into oblivion.
* Intensifiers, like “really,” “very,” “extremely.” Always be suspicious of these. You inserted them to rev up your meaning, but to readers they have the opposite effect. Out!
* “Actually” or “in fact.” If I'd said “to readers they actually have the opposite effect,” would I have changed my point? No. Out!
* “Literally.” Almost always this word deserves squelching. To decide, apply the dictionary meaning to the next word. Is it true? “We literally exploded in laughter.” You did not explode. Out!
* Bad-habit adverbs. The chaplain at a college where I once taught inserted “somehow” into every other sentence to express perplexity at the twists and turns of life. Excise such distracting mannerisms from your writing, too.
If a word does nothing or mucks up your point… Out!
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