Writing Tip for Teens: adverbs

In my last post I wrote about the need to show a character’s actions through a precise choice of words. Often, new writers use an adverb to do so:


Jenna spoke softly.

S/he walked angrily up the stairs.

However, by changing those verb +adverb combinations with one word we often say what we mean better.


Jenna whispered.

S/he stomped up the stairs.

Of course not all adverbs need to be eliminated from our stories, but by using the ‘Find’ option in Word you could check if you’ve written too many words ending in –ly.

Then decide if the verb+adverb can be changed with one word that describes the action better.


I’d love to hear of some words you’ve used instead of a verb+adverb.


Writing Tip for Teens: Word choice – walking and running

I bet a number of teachers have told you to use adverbs to spice up your writing. Well, it’s good advice when you’re writing a school essay, but if you’re interested in becoming a writer then my advice is don’t!

Now, before you go up to your teacher and tell her she’s wrong, let’s see why it’s better to use few adverbs. As writers we need to find the best words to build a picture in our reader’s mind.

For example: Who hasn’t written a story in which the character walks or runs away?

But, the words walk and run don’t really help me to imagine how the character walked or ran. I could write ‘he walked slowly’ but he strolled, shuffled, trudged give me a better idea of the person’s movement and attitude.

Here are a few other words I could use instead of walk: step, stride, pace, tread, pad, saunter, amble, slog, lurch, stagger, wobble, waddle, sidle, slink, mince, tiptoe, wend, hike, tramp, march, wander, roam, rove, meander.

Make sure you know the meaning of the word before you use it as each synonym creates a different picture in the reader’s mind.

Similarly, s/he ran can be changed with a better word such as: dash, dart, bolt, tear, sprint, fly, flit, whiz, whisk; zoom, zip, career, rip, hasten, race, rush, scramble, jog, trot, canter, lope; scamper, flee.

You could use a thesaurus to find the right word you need. There are a number of free online sites that will give you a list of synonyms of the word you type in.

Can you add any other words to the lists?