In his book On Writing, Stephen King famously said, ‘The road to hell is paved with adverbs.’ I happened to hear someone invoke this dictum on a recent occasion due to the use of a single adverb in a sentence someone else had written, the use of which she found objectionable. This person then went on to further invoke Stephen King’s equally famous metaphor comparing adverbs to dandelions overtaking a lawn and turning it into an unsightly mess.
So with all that in mind, let’s have a little pop quiz. Please identify the following three (3) examples:
1) ‘Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.’
2) ‘So we beat on, boats against a current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
3) ‘And now, when Danforth and I saw the freshly glistening and reflectively iridescent black slime which clung thickly to those headless bodies and stank obscenely with that new, unknown odor whose cause only a diseased fancy could envisage — clung to those bodies and sparkled less voluminously on a smooth part of the accursedly resculptured wall in a series of grouped dots — we understood the quality of cosmic fear to its uttermost depths.’
O.K. Time’s up. Pencils down, please. The answers are as follows: Continue reading