"Listen to me," Samuel says, swatting the side of Cal's face '_____'.

It's not a playful or deliberately hurtful slap. It's somewhere in the middle - irritated. Considering the character's personalities, it's rather a gentle gesture for them but shocking enough to say 'get ahold of yourself!'

If not an adverb, how would you word this?

  • gently is the term.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 19:16

3 Answers 3


I agree with @YosefBaskin. A strong verb is better than an adverb or adjective. Swat, tap, slap, etc.

You can also phase it more suscinctly, e.g.

“Listen to me!” Samuel swatted Cal's cheek. “...

You're writing in the present tense (says vs said) which seems to be in vogue at the moment but is tricky to do because it can lead to writing that sounds like a laundry list of actions.

Another thing to consider is who your point of view character is. If it's Samuel or Cal, you have an opportunity to give internals as a way to convey what the intent of the slap was or how it was received.

  • I think the verb "slap" best describes a blow designed to get attention or to chastise. "Swat" seems most commonly used either to hit an insect, a ball, or for an animal hitting with its paw; Merriam-Webster says of swat "to hit with a sharp slapping blow usually with an instrument (such as a bat or flyswatter)".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 16:41

Since the purpose of the slap is to to say Get ahold of yourself! or Snap out of it!, you could use an adverb that helps conveys this purpose and let the intensity be intuited from the purpose:

"Listen to me," Samuel says, swatting the side of Cal's face abruptly."

abruptly (adv.)

In an abrupt manner: in a sudden and unexpected way

He left abruptly.

The car swerved abruptly onto the exit ramp. m-w

abrupt (adj.)

Characterized by or involving action or change without preparation or warning: sudden and unexpected m-w


The adverb "enticingly" might correspond to what you are lookinng for.


entice v.t. Persuade or attract by the offer of pleasure or advantage
enticingly adv. in an enticing manner

  • 1
    I'm afraid that does not work at all... :(
    – Greybeard
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 23:02
  • Agree with you, Mr. Greybeard.
    – user403195
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 4:05
  • Only a masochist would consider a slap to be 'enticing'. Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 17:47
  • @Cascabel I'm bound to agree, but here let us be careful and not fail to consider that it is what is joined to the slap (in particular words) which is aimed at the enticing (similar to shock therapy), if it is not a mere fake with the vicious intent of getting away with a slap .
    – LPH
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 18:17
  • Well...there is the strike of the zen stick, the slap on the face for dealing with "hysterical" patients, the "get with it" smack on the face...consider this a 警策, a keisaku... Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 19:21

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