In her course emphasizing punchy, to-the-point writing, Crestwood Community College Professor Sandra Finn strongly advises her students to avoid using adverbs, but found she had trouble completely barring them from doing so.
“I tried to tell them to completely avoid using adverbs, but then I realized I was – embarrassingly – breaking my own rule,” said Professor Finn. “So then I started telling them never to use them, which I thought worked brilliantly.”
And it did – until it occurred to Professor Finn that “never” is itself an adverb.
At that point, said Professor Finn, she was at rather a loss. “Stephen King makes the point so convincingly that adverbs are superfluous and only serve to water down writing. I was totally sold. But I just couldn’t figure out how to get the point across to my students without using adverbs to do it.”
Nevertheless, after giving the matter some serious thought, Professor Finn finally arrived at what has proven to be an at least somewhat workable solution: she informs students that they will be docked a letter grade if their writing assignments contain more than zero adverbs.
“It’s not flowery,” she said ruefully, "but it gets the point across. Sometimes that's just the best you can do.”