We recently connected with Andrew Howe, who believes he’s created a platform that will enhance student writing skills by focusing on one little part of the English language: the adverb. Howe is the creator of Averbless, a platform that highlights all the adverbs in a selected chunk of text. (We tried it. Just copy/paste some text in and watch as the platform highlights all potential adverbs.)
This writer is definitely watching her adverb usage.
We sat down to talk about what drove him to build this platform, why the adverb is worth editing, and advice for students who want to leverage digital tools to become better writers.
Tell us about Adverbless. How does this tool help student writers?
Adverbless is a tool that I made about one year ago. As a student, I know the importance of writing high-quality papers, so one day I decided to improve my writing skills once and for all.
There are not many people who know how to use adverbs in English speech effectively. Thus, it’s best to use them sparingly.
I thought this tool would be helpful for students, but I realize there are many writers who could benefit, as well. Once you're done with your essay, you can put your text in a box to analyze it. This tool highlights the adverbs so you can control the adverb density and quantity.
And why no love for adverbs? What's the strategy behind eradicating adverbs from text?
I think that it's totally incorrect to love or hate a part of speech. First of all, an adverb is a part of speech that is misused more frequently than any other. That is why I thought that highlighting each adverb is a good idea; you can make sure that it makes a sentence more informative. Or replace it otherwise.
There is no strategy behind eradicating adverbs. Leave them when they are necessary and remove them when they don’t add anything to your text.
Do you think your tool helps users become better writers?
I think, yes, if used properly. As mentioned, it's just a simple, focused tool. No improvements will happen once someone pushes the "check" button. This tool provides insight on how to use the adverbs in your texts; analyze suggestions and become a better writer.
What gave you the idea for this tool?
I'm fond of writing; I always surf the internet to find interesting and useful writing tips that might help me hone my skills.
Once I found an article about Stephen King's writing tips and I changed my attitude toward adverbs. King said, “Spend adverbs sparingly, like they were $100 bills,” and that impressed me a lot! I realized that this is an often misused part of speech and we can do better. (And we don't often use this part of speech in the right way.)
Any big plans for the future of this platform? What are some of your big goals?
There are several ideas I have for improving this tool: adding an adverb counter, density checker, and/or stronger suggestions for which adverbs to remove.
At the moment, I'm trying to collect as much feedback as possible. I'm going to use it as the direction for further upgrades. I would be happy to take any feedback at andrewhowe306 [at] gmail (dot) com!