I stumbled across this great article on Holt Uncensored about common writer mistakes. The entire piece is definitely worth a look, but the payoff for me was the section on what Holt calls “empty adverbs”. There is nothing worse than reading something stuffed with these needless words. How many times have we all gone there with descriptions of things that are “completely” or “totally” something or other, an “absolutely” such and such?
The point of the empty words screed according to the Holt Uncensored post is not that you should cut these words out of everything you write, but that more often than not the words do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do–they make the sentence bland and trite rather than calling attention to something important.
The article gives some hilarious examples of wretched writing from famous authors including Dan “The Da Vinci Code” Brown. He also skewers People Magazine (rightly so!) for their flagrant abuses of the adverb.
I’d never read Holt Uncensored til I found this post, but I’m a fan now…