Rules are made to be broken

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”–Stephen King

Whatever you say, dear.   So speaks the man whose complete collection would guarantee that I would not have to buy toilet paper for the outhouse for years. That’s one of the major faults of ebooks. You can’t use ’em when you run out of toilet paper.

I adored Salem’s Lot.  It would be spared from the outhouse collection. Carrie? Yeah, I guess. I liked it better than the rest which isn’t saying much.   Then the man started getting paid by the word and the dynamic tightness of his stories went down the hole in the outhouse. One cannot be scared by someone who rambles on and on.  I tried to read The Shining.  I really did try.  I kept going to sleep.  It was 1977 when it came out.  I was in my first year of college.  You sent a 18-year-old college student repeatedly to sleep , Mr. King.   I got smart and started to read lying on my bed.  Damn near killed myself when I kept dropping that book on me.  Better than sleeping  pills or hypnotism.

And he complains about adverbs.   The road to hell is paved with adverbs only when you misuse the damn things.

Which is better in the story context?


The Devil ran quickly.  Well, he could have run slowly but considering the decibel level of the crash and the lack of cursing from the demons, quickly was better.   He was so shocked  he forgot to curse.  “Oh bother, now how did that happen?”


The Devil raced.  Well, he could have run slowly but considering the decibel level of the crash and the lack of cursing from the demons, raced was better.   He was so shocked he forgot to curse.  “Oh bother, now how did that happen?”


Which one gives you the sense that something is screwed in hell and all heaven is about to break loose? You can picture the difference between all out hell for leather “The bear is on my ass.” vs a slow lope “Isn’t it a lovely warm July day?”.

The devil has a choice about speed and something is very wrong.

It really depends exactly what you are doing with it and what rules you want to break for what purpose.  If you are breaking them without knowing what you are breaking?  Then you have a problem.

Use only when appropriate for what you want to convey and remove the excess if it over describes.  One assumes when one sees ran, it was quick.  Quickly is not needed unless it is for some other purpose like the one in my sentence.  I’m breaking the rule to create the scene and the joke.

Sometimes that road is exactly the one you want on when it is the quickest most fastest vehicle to where you want to go.

And don’t forget to edit.

[edited to add:

don’t forget to check to see if the blog/publisher/whoever ate some of your prose/post or made some unwanted changes. ]

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