An adverb, like an adjective, is a modifier—a word or phase that adds description to a sentence. If used wisely, modifiers can enhance a sentence.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
With the persistent cops chasing me, I couldn’t stop to remove my high heels. Persistent is not necessary. Chasing cops are most likely persistent.
The muddy, sloppy road slowed my drive into town. Remove sloppy; muddy does a fine job by itself.
The weightlifter accidently dropped a dumbbell on his foot, breaking his toe. Accidently works here, because the weightlifter would not drop the dumbbell on purpose.
The witness supposedly lied to the jury. Supposedly is necessary only if the writer of this sentence means to place doubt as to the veractiy of the witness.
Weak modifiers vs strong verbs
Tom forcibly closed the door when he noticed the parking ticket on his windshield. Replace forcibly closed with slammed.
Her loud cry was heard across the valley. Replace loud cry with scream.
Strategically placed modifier
“Once upon a midnight dreary… .” Poe’s placement of the modifier, dreary, after the object, midnight, made for an unforgettable line in The Raven. Once upon a dreary midnight takes the punch out of the sentence, leaving it flat. In fact, it sounds awkward. Gordon Lightfoot did the same in his song, “If You Could Read My Mind”: “. . . in a castle dark and a fortress strong” has a nice ring. A dark castle and a strong fortress sounds dull. And, if this were anything other than that beautifully balanced lyric, strong would be redundant because fortresses by nature are strong.
Stephen King is a brilliant writer. I also try to hunt down adverbs in my writing; but sending them all to hell is a bit extreme. So, with the use of each modifier ask yourself; does it improve, enhance, or clarify the sentence? If the answer is no, follow Mark Twain’s advice.