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>>>>Both. I was guilty of it, and you used it twice successively (final two paragraphs, "asked quietly" and "answered heavily").

Hook: So I did. However adverbs *are* acceptable if used judiciously, especially when the dialog alone doesn't supply the "tone". For example, it is unneccessarily to say: "'Go to hell!' he said angrily" because it is apparent from the dialog that the individual is angry. On the other hand, "What do we do now?" by itself doesn't tell you if he is angry, fearful, crying, speaking softly, whispering, or talking normally. I don't see a problem with supplying "he asked softly" to indicate the mood in this case. One might argue that the preceding prose should lead the reader to an understanding of the character's mood, but when people are in shock or suffering from grief, there are a whole range of emotions that can flash through their minds one after another. The reader can't possibly know which one is currently holding sway in the character's mind, but one simple adverb can settle the matter. Of course, "softly" isn't a specific emotion, but it eliminates anger and possibly fear from the equation, and allows the reader to "hear" the dialog as intended.

Could I have written a paragraph to precisely identify Tom's emotion at that moment? Sure, but why write a paragraph if one word will do?

(I'm not advocating rampant use of adverbs; I'm only saying that there shouldn't be a blanket prohibition against their use now and then, where appropriate.)

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