Death to Adverbs!

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngI’ve never been completely on board with this trend of adverb hate amongst professional writers. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe that showing is better than telling, but I don’t see the reasoning behind completely abolishing an entire set of words from the English language. I’m just saying, is all.

But, with that said, it is a good exercise to try and get rid of as many adverbs as possible from your writing, which is why we have today’s assignment.

Go to a local cafe, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind. Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.


Well, you can’t get much more public than an international airport, and that’s where I am today: Edmonton International Airport. It’s not the biggest airport I’ve ever been too, but it’s definitely not the smallest either. According to the signs EIA has around 92 gates, with flights arriving and departing at all hours of the day.

I am currently sitting outside gate 49, which is actually a conglomeration of four different desks that all direct passengers to the same area. Flights that leave from this gate are what I like to refer to as “puddle-jumpers”: smaller planes with 40 or fewer seats that travel short distances. In this case I am awaiting a flight that will take me from Edmonton to Calgary, which is approximately an hour’s flight.

Hanging from the ceiling just outside the gate is a flat-screen television showing the local news, though there is no volume so you have to guess what the newscasters are talking about. There are several rows of silver-framed, green flat-back chairs for passengers to wait on, and these rows are interspersed with tall brown planters which hold fake, wide-leaved plants. There is also a Telus payphone off to the right of the gate, which amuses me a bit. I wonder how often it actually gets used in the age of cellphones.

To the left of gate 49 is an Indigo Spirit, which I believe is “kid sister” version of Coles or Chapters. From here I can see the Bestsellers table, a display of gifts for newborn babies, and a rack of storybooks for kids. To the right of the gate is a “Montana’s Front Porch”, a downsized version of Montana’s Steakhouse that, ironically, does not serve steak. This restaurant-inside-an-airport features a “front porch” area with tables under a canopy, in case you wanted to feel like you’re on a patio while watching airline passengers walk by. I don’t get it myself, but I suppose they thought it was cute.

Across from where I am sitting is a young couple. She has her blond hair up in a ponytail, while he is wearing a black baseball cap with a pair of sunglasses sitting on the brim. They have two large bags that must barely make the size cuttoff for a carry-on. He’s wearing a beige coat with the collar popped, blue jeans, and a large-faced watch, and he’s playing games on his phone. She’s wearing a dark grey hoodie, capri-length exercise pants, and a pair of neon purple-and-pink sneakers, and she’s twisting her boarding pass around in her fingers while she talks on her phone.

Speaking of phones, to the left of me a dark-haired woman in jeans and a t-shirt is talking on her phone while rummaging through her purse. To the right of me an overweight man in a button-up shirt and shiny loafers is talking on one phone while apparently texting on another. Even the short airport security lady who just walked past me has a phone held up to her head. We truly are in the age of cellphones, but not just cellphones. Behind the dark-haired woman is a young man laying across several chairs with an iPad propped up on his knees. Behind the overweight man is a guy with a thick brown beard and black jeans plucking away at a netbook. Sitting just down from me, across from the Montana’s is a guy with an even thicker beard, glasses, and a paperboy hat, reading something on what appears to be a Kindle. Even I am not exempt. I’m typing this up on my bluetooth keyboard while my tablet is laying propped up on my carry-on. But I don’t suppose you can blame people for taking advantage of their technology, especially in a place as boring as an airport.

This task has made me realize how difficult it can be to describe a public place in lots of detail. If I were to “leave no nuance behind” I could easily be here all night. I could mention that the gate screens are blue and white with yellow writing and that they all say “Welcome/Bienvenue”, or that I’m surrounded by little pictorial signs to lead foreign-speaking travelers toward the proper gates and baggage areas, or that the neon sign on the side of the Montana’s restaurant is glowing a really bright blue that actually really bothers my eyes. But honestly? I could sit here for days and talk about every nuance of this one little part of the airport that I happen to be sitting in, but I guess that’s the point of the exercise…to show just how detailed the world around you can be and that it can be described without resorting to endless waves of adverbs.

So did I succeed? If you see any adverbs in this post, feel free to call me out!