Watch for the Word Some in Your Story

image by geralt

In my readings, I’ve noticed many unnecessary occurrences of the word some. I have to ferret out that sneaky word from my drafts. But I don’t delete all of them. Sometimes some is the correct word.

Where the word some works.

Example

> “Did you read all of the book?”

   “I read some of it.”

Although some works, it’s a vague word here. If how much of the book read is important to the story, a more specific word is better.

Suppose the person asking is a contest organizer talking to a procrastinating judge. The organizer will want to know how many pages out of the total number of pages the judge has read. The judge would know that’s what the organizer is seeking.

But suppose the person asking is a mother talking to a teen who needs to complete a book report. Some would be appropriate for an evading teen. The next dialogue statement from the mother might be:

“Exactly how many pages have you read?”

Where some doesn’t work well.

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Example

> Daryl grabbed his phone and tapped in some numbers.

Some isn’t necessary.

< Daryl grabbed his phone and tapped in numbers.

This is more concise and punchier.

Example

> I wish you’d write some more tips on your blog.

Does the speaker want the blogger to write more tips, or does the speaker wish to limit the number to a few more tips. Probably the former. Some isn’t necessary.

< I wish you’d write more tips on your blog.

Example

> Jerry poked some ruffles on her sleeve.

This sounds like Jerry singled out particular ruffles to poke.

< He poked the ruffles on her sleeve.

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Example

< They played some tennis before getting ready for dinner.

Some is unnecessary or, if necessary, is imprecise.

> We played tennis before getting ready for dinner.

We played two sets of tennis before getting ready for dinner.

Example

> She’d softened her attitude some toward him and given him hope.

Some used for degrees is vague and doesn’t add to the meaning of this sentence. It causes wordiness. The word softened already assumes a degree compared to changed her attitude.

< She’d softened her attitude toward him and given him hope.

Example

> We have some exciting news, girls. You’re going to have a brother.

This sounds like the parents have only a part of the exciting new that they could have. Remove some, and the excitement of the statement rises.

We have exciting news, girls. You’re going to have a brother.

As in the last example, some becomes a weasel word, sucking the life out of adjacent words. Some sucked the life out of exciting.

Watch for the word some; it can be vague and unnecessary. Click to tweet.

What are other vague, unnecessary words?

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Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

Don’t Let Weasel Words Suck the Life From Your Writing

“Nothing marks a skilled writer as much as his ability to write tight.” — Angela Hunt

weasel-470490_1280

Sometimes the words we use in our writing detract from other words in our stories.

Think of the alleged egg-sucking habits of weasels. An egg a weasel has sucked empty will look intact to the casual observer.

by galsio
by galsio

Weasel words suck energy from the victim words next to them. The victim words are there, but weaker.

Weasel words are sometimes the right words in dialogue if they’re consistent with the way characters would speak. Otherwise, if they rob the punch of adjacent words, delete them.

 

Examples of Weasel Words

 

256px-PSM_V54_D810_Weasel Just 

Just works fine when used for showing time. She could tell by his warm coffee mug that he’d just left. If we remove just, it changes the meaning of the sentence. 

Consider I just hate being late. Just robs half the power of hate. Without just, all the emphasis is appropriately on hate

I hate being late.

  256px-PSM_V54_D810_WeaselVery & Rather 

Do degrees of wrong and well help the next two sentences? Disliking her brother was very wrong. He took the news rather well. Are the words wrong and well vague? No. 

Very, sucks out wrong’s decisive nature. Ditto for rather describing well. 

Disliking her brother was wrong. 

He took the news well.

256px-PSM_V54_D810_Weasel Some

She poured some corn into the bowl. Some is unnecessary. We get the image with: She poured corn into the bowl.

  256px-PSM_V54_D810_WeaselImmediately & Suddenly

She slapped his face. He immediately grabbed her arm. If we remove immediately, do we think he did something else before he grabbed her arm? Immediately, powers down the action in grabbed.

She slapped his face. He grabbed her arm. 

Suddenly: After midnight, the doorbell suddenly chimed. Eva froze.

Suddenly tells us nothing new. It doesn’t add fear. The time of night and Eva’s reaction shows us the scariness of the passage. Let chimed retain it’s own powerful sound.

 After midnight, the doorbell chimed. Eva froze.

256px-PSM_V54_D810_Weasel Sure 

Compare: He sure loved her. and He loved her. Sure drains the love out of loved.

256px-PSM_V54_D810_WeaselReally

His sister really deteriorated after Paul left. Deteriorated is already a strong word. Really separates His sister from her problem and takes the emphasis from deterioration.

His sister deteriorated after Paul left.

256px-PSM_V54_D810_Weasel That 

Be careful on this one. That often helps clarity. But many times it adds wordiness. Try rewording to get rid of thats.

She realized that Randy didn’t care that she was ill, and that made it easier to leave him.

Removing unnecessary thats: She realized Randy didn’t care she was ill, and that made it easier to leave him.

Better would be to reword: Randy’s indifference to her illness made leaving him easier.

by clconroy
by clconroy

Weasel words suck the life from other words. Remove them. Click to tweet.

What are other weasel words commonly used?