As I said in my review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there was one fundamental problem I had while reading that had me shaking my head to the point of near distraction. I realize that this is something that a lot of people won’t necessarily notice while reading, but as someone who constantly looks over his own writing for them, I couldn’t help but notice the annoying amount of adverbs (there’s a little bit of alliteration for ya, free of charge) that are present throughout the book.
Seriously, though, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is rife with adverbs, especially when paired with dialogue tags.
“Of course not,” said Hermione briskly. “How do you think you’d get the Stone without us? I’d better go and look through my books, there might be something useful. . . .”
“But if we get caught, you two will be expelled, too.”
“Not if I can help it,” said Hermione grimly.” Flitwick told me in secret that I got a hundred and twelve percent on his exam. They’re not throwing me out after that.” – page 271
Now, that might not seem like a big deal to the common reader, but as someone who has been taught against using adverbs alongside dialogue tags, it really sticks out. I actually didn’t even look for that. I simply opened up the page I was on and there was a perfect example.
Adverbs, at least when they latch onto dialogue tags, are evidence to me of missed opportunities for the author to continue to help the reader see the scene. If the author is doing their job correctly, there should be no doubt in the reader’s mind as to how a character is saying their lines due to the description of the scene and action going on.
People can read situations, especially those who read books often, so to just put an adverb in rather than either keeping the dialogue tag as simple as saying “said” or adding some description of the body language or actions of character that is speaking is not only hurting the reader, but the author as well.
I suppose it just makes me a bit sad because of how wonderful the rest of Rowling’s writing is. I hope that it will improve in the following books, but as of now, it is the one thing that kept me from giving Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a perfect score.
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” – On Writing by Stephen King
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