Don Massenzio with a fascinating examination of how often famous authors use adverbs.

Author Don Massenzio


As writers, we are constantly (adverb) told about the misstep of using too many adverbs in our writing. I recently received the book Nabakov’s Favorite Word is Mauve, by Ben Blatt which has the first attempt to quanitfy adverb usage by authors recognized as the masters of the craft that I have seen.

So, being a numbers person, I was drawn to this article and wanted to see how my own writing stacked up to the masters in this area.

Did Stephen King live up to his quote? The book found that, out of the voluminous novels (51) that King has written, his rate of adverb usage (strictly the ones ending in ‘ly’)is about 101 per 10,000 words or right around 1%. Ernest Hemingway, who also extolled the evils of adverbs, lived up to his claim with only 80 adverbs per 10,000 words over his 10 novels. That’s only…

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