The pattern is emerging and my vision is becoming alert to it. When one set of annoying repetitive words or phrases have been dealt with, when I become aware of them and avoid using them, I substitute others in their stead. That I see them is progress and I am encouraged. That I must again wade through pages of words and eliminate them is disheartening. I am stubborn if nothing else and determined to add, ‘don’t over use but’ to my list of writing rules. So I am kickin’ but out of my manuscript.
In the beginning of my purge, I simply substituted synonyms, still, yet, however, filled the holes nicely. I made a list and kept it in front of me. The choices grew, the list increased, despite, only, yet, as the buts became fewer. Gradually I became aware that the problem was not necessarily because of the word choice, often it stemmed from an over use of a particular sentence structure. It led me to ask the question, what do other authors do? To answer that I allowed myself to purchase several books for my Kindle and began to read. It was research.
I was gratified to find one author used more buts in a page than I did. I was discouraged to find as I read another I quit paying attention to sentence structure and became immersed in the story. Whether I accumulated a better sense of variations by osmosis or from dealing with the problem I am not certain. The possible alterations that present themselves are endless and kickin’ but is no longer disheartening. It has become a challenge that permits me to rebuild sentences, shuffle words and phrases into various patterns. It reminds me of choosing colors, shapes and order of blocks in a quilt.
Unlike eliminating, had or and then, kickin’ but requires more than culling the word from the texts. Kickin’ but asks me to analyze the content. Is this really a contrast, an either or, but, for, or nor situation? Sometimes I have to admit it is simply an and situation. Sometimes it is stronger than but or yet, requires a more thoughtful although. Occasionally the emphasis demands a sentence of its own and I have been brave enough to employ the semi-colon. Choices, variety, if it is a spice of life, it also spices and colors writing.
Now as I read though my manuscript my highlighter leaves dots of color on the page for every but I find. Too many dots and I am compelled to address the issue, one or two and I tend to leave the buts as they are. The exception I allow is in dialogue. I excuse it because people do speak that way. Do they? I shall have to do more research. Another book? Perhaps, the better course is to pay attention to those speaking around me.
“This, Mom,” my son said the other day as he thumped a container of change on my desk, “is my ‘be kind to my butt’ fund. A drive for better toliette paper for my poor sore butt.”
Kickin’ butt is not new to me.
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