I've been being turned off by everything I've started. Thank goodness for reading the first few pages on Amazon, listening to exerpts on Audible or downloading the first chapter or so with a kindle else I'd have spent wayyy too much money for not a lot of gratification. I was about to download a Dick Francis from Audible just to have a decent read. er, story. [sigh] Maybe its just mid-spring ennui. Or maybe I've been reading too many reader reviews. I've started only reading the 1 or 2 star comments, and many of those have echoed my thoughts after listening/reading the exerpt. Hmmmm maybe they are commenting only after listening/reading the exerpt too...how diabolical!
Just Finished "Eight Days to Live" by Iris Johansen. Obviously no one told her not to use 'ly-ending" words. Excellent tension, lots of chacaters to keep track of, but enough solid development to keep them straight. And a couple of great nasty bad guys. Still I got a little board and started counting ly -endings. Kept taking me out of the story.
It's unnecessary adverbs that's an issue - choosing to use an adverb (or three) to help describe a weak verb, rather than picking a stronger verb that is more descriptive, fresh, and vivid. The whole point is to create an image in the reader's mind - they should be following and caught up in the story, rather than being (too) conscious of the writing.
The use of adverbs in of itself isn't a bad thing, but the overuse or poor use of adverbs can sometimes (often?) be one of the signs of poor writing. It pulls the reader out of the story, and has them consciously aware of the bad/clunky etc writing. And that's not a good thing.
Like any writing 'rule', it's not set in stone - and it really just comes down to - 'is it good writing, or not'? There are plenty of examples of adverb (or adjective) use which is beautifully written and not a problem at all.
Doug's point that it's too often used to make up for weak basic text applies mostly to learners. I often cut adverbs because they create that "purple prose" effect. A skilled writer, of course, won't use them poorly.
P.S. Reading POSITIVELY 4TH STREET, a popular history of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and their associates of the folk music world.
Michael Connelly, 9 DRAGONS. This is a Bosch novel dealing with Chinese triads and a trip to Hongkong. I'm no Bosch fan. The man is too self-centered and lacking in empathy to suit me as a protagonist. But the book moves well and even become a page turner at one point. My favorite Connelly protagonist, Mickey Haller, the Lincoln lawyer, makes a cameo appearance. For reasons known only to the author he turns out to be Bosch's halfbrother. Typically, he's used and then discarded by Bosch.
The other book shall remain nameless. It was that awful. A Canadian cozy with high praise in blurbs by well-known writers, it is the worst piece of writing I've encountered this year. And that refers to style and content.
And lest you blame this on my general disinterest in cozies, let me say that I'm a great fan of Alexander McCall-Smith's Mma Ramotswe series.
Starting out winter with a huge pile of great books is a wonderful thing - although choosing becomes an absolute nightmare.
Still - I've corrected a long time mistake and am just about to finish Gregg Hurwitz's second book - We Know. Plus Women Who Kill (True Crime) by Lindy Cameron and Ruth Wykes, as well as Colin McLaren's novel (rather than the true story Infiltration) - On the Run.
Plus I've got Leigh Redhead's latest - Thrill City and Stuart MacBride's Dark Blood, as well as Random By Craig Robertson, The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt (and a storage problem of monumental proportions!)