The topic of adverbs is one that people can never seem to be in complete agreement on. True, most writers agree that it's better to eliminate them and come up with one strong verb to describe your character's actions, but a lot of times - especially on the NaNoWriMo forums - there's at least a few people who disagree, often strongly.
In general, I agree that adverbs should be used sparingly; they have their place (like a few words ago in this sentence) but eliminating them often sounds better and is at the very least worth a try. However, I've come up with a recent conundrum in my writing - mainly in my dialogue. In an effort not use adverbs, and not to repeat terms such as 'whispered' or 'muttered' or any other speech tag that isn't as common as said, I've found myself adding descriptions after 'he said' and 'she said.' For example, 'he said, his voice low', or something along those lines.
The problem with this quickly becomes obvious. That type of description is becoming repetitive, and anything sounds bad if you use it over and over.
Take my situation today, the one that prompted me to write this blog post. I was working on a scene where the characters are in awe - they're seeing the dwarf cities in the mountains for the first time. One of them is a dragon, and a dwarf tells him that none of his kind have seen the cities for hundreds of years. I wrote his response:
"I would consider myself lucky to see a sight such as this even if that weren't the case," Fireclaw said.
I stopped writing there, and when I came back to the scene later, I thought, hmm, maybe I ought to change that. I want to convey how reverent he is. I was about to change it to,
"I would consider myself lucky to see a sight such as this even if that weren't the case," Fireclaw said, his tone reverent.
When I stopped, and thought, wait. I use that type of sentence all the time - I should try something else. So of course the first thing that jumped to mind was,
"I would consider myself lucky to see a sight such as this even if that weren't the case," Fireclaw said reverently.
I'm still torn about which one sounds the best. So here's MY adverb debate: Do I avoid the adverb, even if it means risking repetitive phrasing? Do I use the adverb and just make sure there aren't many others nearby? Or do I leave the sentence as-is, letting Fireclaw's words alone show his reverence? What do you think?
As my youth leader often says when silence envelops the room - "That was not a rhetorical question, guys."