Adverbs with Jane Godman

Author Jane Godman is talking about Adverbs. She has a new book out this month, Colton's Secret Bodyguard (The Colton's of Roaring Spring).

JANE GODMAN is a 2019 Romantic Novelists’ Award winner and 2018 Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. She writes thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense/Mills and Boon Heroes and paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne/Mills and Boon Supernatural and St. Martin’s Press Romance. She also self publishes her historical and gothic stories.
Jane was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. She still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history. 
When she isn’t reading or writing romance, Jane enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and enjoying the antics of her dogs, Gravy and Vera.  

 Connect with Jane Godman on the web:

Website         Facebook          Twitter         Goodreads

Are Adverbs the Enemy?
I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
Stephen King

It’s a well-known quote. But, seriously, what’s wrong with adverbs? They have served a useful purpose for centuries. Should they be banished because of a new “rule”?
Firstly, let me say that, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with adverbs. Oh, and there are no “rules” in writing.
While there’s nothing wrong with adverbs, they can get in the way of richer language. If a dog is barking, is it necessary to say it’s doing it ‘loudly’? If a person is running, there is no need to add that they’re doing it ‘quickly’.
Stephen King was giving good advice to writers to guard against the temptation to overuse adverbs. We should focus on strong, vivid verbs instead. There is no rule about eliminating all adverbs. Instead, we should strive to be precise in our wording.
Adverbs can distance the reader or fill in details the reader should be filling in. Too many adverbs take away the reader’s ability to put their own interpretation on a story’s events. And too many adverbs can get wordy (or boring).
Then again, there are always examples that break the “rules”…
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson.

Would the “no adverbs” rule have improved this opening?

My advice would be to use adverbs when they add something to your writing. If you find yourself relying on them, try finding alternatives. If a character “surges up” from her seat it makes more impact than saying she “rose quickly”.

As always, it’s important to remember that, when it comes to writing, there are no rules, only advice.

Colton’s Secret Bodyguard (The Coltons of Roaring Spring)

His mission: keep her safe, no matter what…

A Coltons of Roaring Springs thriller.

Just as Bree Colton is about to take the local art world by storm, someone is determined to sabotage her success…unless Rylan Bennet can keep her safe. Bree doesn’t want anyone to protect her—not even gorgeous Rylan, whose secrets threaten them both. But can the former soldier win the battle for Bree’s heart and the war against a sinister foe?

Buy on:

Amazon UK              Amazon Aust

Harlequin                 B&N 

Kobo        Book Depository        iBooks


  1. Hi Kelly and Jane - the Bree Colton series looks to be a fascinating read. We should write in our unique way ... and make sure our story rings 'true' ... so making sure we utilise our words in the best way possible - makes so much sense. Thanks for the good advice - cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary, you're right. There is no such thing as a right or wrong word. It's simply about making the best choices. I find that I'm more drawn to adverbs when I write a historical romance. Maybe that has something to do with the patterns of speech of the time period?

  2. That's great advice. I'm sure readers don't think about all the ins and outs to writing a book they're reading.

  3. Thanks, Mary. Although readers may not think about the ins and outs, I'm sure they appreciate the impact! I hope they do...

  4. I've only once (in my writing group) gone after adverbs. The writer had used weak verbs, which is what I pointed out. It's glaring when it's done badly.

  5. I like that advice and also the saying: "there are no rules, only advice." I can live with that. Congratulations on your new book, Jane. Sounds intriguing.

  6. I like adverbs- but try to limit them in my writing. I usually start with a lot and cut them back during editing. Great advice. :)

  7. Thanks for featuring Jane today. We'd get along because she loves to travel and she named a dog Gravy! My kind of writer.

  8. I definitely limit my use of adverbs and have to remind myself that they're a natural part of conversation. ~grin~ Happy Writing!