editing, editing tips, Overused Words, Overusing the Word So, Strong vs Weak Words, Strong Words, Weak Words, writers, writing, Writing Advice, writing tips
Today’s word to think about is “so.” Not “so” as an intensifier as in, “Robin is soooooooo smart,” but when used as a transition. “So” isn’t altogether evil, but if used too often, “so” sounds like a crutch. Maybe a semicolon is better. Maybe an “and” irons out the wrinkles. Maybe the sentence needs to be two sentences.
I had 109 “so-s” and reduced the number today to 50. The result? Literary magic! Well, not magic exactly, but better writing. Let’s explore this idea.
Robin’s blog is humorous, so she must be a smart cookie.
Oh gosh! She makes me laugh too.
Robin’s blog is humorous; she must be a plagiarist.
Robin has many readers, so she can’t respond to all the comments.
She ignores me too.
Robin has few readers and appreciates the one comment she gets per day.
I read every word of Robin’s blog so I don’t make a fool of myself when I praise her profound writing advice.
Profound writing what………..?!?
Not wanting to make a fool of Robin, I refuse to comment on her blog.
Robin didn’t know I un-followed her, so please keep my secret to yourself.
Shhhhhh. I un-followed her too!
Robin doesn’t know I un-followed her. If you tell her, she is likely to hurt me.
Robin is testy, so commenting on her blog makes me uncomfortable.
She is scary!
Robin barked at me when she replied to my comment. I was afraid for my safety.
Robin leaned against the bar at the writer’s conference so I made my way across the room to say hello.
You can always find Robin at the bar.
I spotted Robin across the room and headed for the exit before she saw me.
If I could afford the extravagance to do so, I would send Robin flowers every week.
You do know her favorite flower is an expensive rare orchid from South America, right?
If I could afford the extravagance, I would hire a bodyguard to protect me from Robin’s wrath.
So . . . what say you?
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I shall defend my verbal ticks to the end!!! Just kidding, I’m afraid of how many “so” are in my writing now….wanna cry in corner…
Ha! My verbal tick is “that.” That. That. That . . . in every bloody sentence. “That” is easy to nuke. “So” is a tad trickier. Good luck with “that!”
I think I share the “that” tick tooo lolz…
“That” is so funny!
Let's CUT the Crap! said:
So…now I’m tongue-tied. Ha ha.
Sorry honey. “So” sorry.
Russel Ray Photos said:
“So” is my Achilles’ heel, so I try to read my comments before hitting that “Post Comment” button so that I don’t have sooooooooooooo many so’s in my comments.
Achilles’ heel as in a intensifier, or as a transition?
Russel Ray Photos said:
Well I know what intensifiers and transitions are, but I’m having problems applying either to Achilles heel.
You should see a doctor about that.
Russel Ray Photos said:
Doctors have given up on me.
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Say it isn’t so!
Sorry . . . it is “so.”
So be it.
Vanessa Chapman said:
I first came across the word ‘so’ as being a problem last year some time. I wrote an educational guide at work, and one of my proof readers came back and said that she had crossed out three quarters of my occurences of ‘so’, most of which were completely redundant and didn’t need replacing with another word. When I read through it, I saw that she was right!
My partner particularly hates it on the radio when experts are being interviewed, and they start every one of their replies with “So….”. Don’t know if they do that over there, but they certainly do over here!
Oh yes . . . broadcasters and people being interviewed do it here too. “So, Michael Phelps, how does it feel to be a superstar in the pool?” Mikes answer . . . “It feels so freaking awesome.”
So slips in the backdoor unnoticed, until you see how often it does!
You ought to have a menu above with strong vs weak words, and link up all the posts on the page. You might have your own little niche going on here.
I’ve thought of grouping the series together, but I’m not sure how to do it. I’ll play around to see if I can figure it out. Any hints?
I was thinking along the lines of a menu page (sort of like some of the ones on my page). You could write an intro putting some context about using them when editing a manuscript. Then list them underneath with a link to each post. Any future posts could be have a tiny intro paragraph referencing the menu above. – The choice is of course yours.
I’ll pop over to your blog to see how you’ve done your menus. Or, could I tag them with a “category?”
That would be another way to do it, but I would draw attention to it because I think the posts are strong enough and have been popular.
How would I draw attention to the series? I’m a relative newbie! Sorry for being needy, Elliot.
Well you have space up top (above the Eiffel Tower) for a nice big menu option along the lines of “Writing tips: Strong Vs Weak words”, that might do it on it’s own. I’m new to this myself so it might be a case of try it and see.
I’ll play around with it. Wish me luck that my blog doesn’t blow up.
I do hope that one day ( quite soon) you turn all these pearls of wisdom into a book. I would buy four copies immediately to give to each of my grand chidren, all at unversity, but neither readers nor writers, and unaware(at the moment) of style, and bullied into writing university-speak for the sake of their marks.
I am working on putting the series into book form right after I finish the edits on my novel. Oh my goodness . . . will editing ever end?
So, you don’t like so! I see so! 🙂
“So” true! How do you feel about “so?”
I use it every so often 🙂
Hey Robin! I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You can see it here. http://4amwriter.com/2012/08/01/awards-in-rhyme/
You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, but I wanted to show you how much I enjoy your blog. 🙂
“So” delightful! Thank you. I am tickled you enjoy the blog. Affirmation feels good.
I too am soooooooooooo (and I mean it) behind on acknowledging blog awards. Ack. Bad blogger, bad.
Not quite quintessential said:
So, my pet hate is should, so should I hate it so? Yes. Although, so and should, should tip me over when used together, so I wont do that.
Although ‘ Make it so, Scotty’ is definately an acceptable use of the word so. Back on should, a recent policy document I read had over 30 shoulds in 10 pages. What sort of a policy is that? Maybe I should have dont a piece on should instead of ranting on your page. Then I could move on to could … Thanks Robin for so, will watch those too …
Funny you mention “should.” I had 40 “shoulds” and reduced the number to 20. Would and could were culprits too.
Polly Robinson said:
Oh-oh … poor Kipling, he must be spinning in his grave … mortified!! heh-heh 🙂
I’m not familiar with your Kipling reference. What is it?
Polly Robinson said:
heh-heh, Rudyard Kipling, he wrote the ‘Just So’ series of books 🙂
Oh, duh. Of course!
Polly Robinson said:
I had sooooo many so-s in my manuscript. It’s one of my “overused” words. I should’ve counted what I had originally. My revised version definitely has a lot less so-s.
“So” is easy to overuse. The word slips in unnoticed at every turn!
Another word I overuse is “just”. It’s just so easy to overuse. 😉
And rarely needed! And easy one to edit out, thanks to the delete key.
If Robin says so, it must be so 😉
Let’s hope “so.”
I am diligently thinking of these words as I write. I hear myself say “Robin wouldn’t like that,” over and over. Talk about voices.
I’m sorry. Hearing my voice in your head must be tiresome.
Never. Extremely helpful
Madame Weebles said:
This might be my #1 weakness right here. I use this word ALL THE TIME.
Yikes! Easy to do. “So” is a sneaky little word. Slips in unnoticed. I bet you “hear” it now when you type the word.
Eagle-Eyed Editor said:
I am so-so about “sos”, so I’ll keep a lookout for them in the future.
Do you mean you are ho-hum and so-so about my blog. Drat!
Eagle-Eyed Editor said:
Naaah. I could never be so-so about your wonderful blog. Just about the word “so”. You’ve taught me some great tips and my writing has gotten better because of you. 🙂
Well thank you! Lovely for you to say.
So, er, sooooooo. So what? I like so! Let’s hear it for so!!
Do you say so? If so, bravo!
The moral, apparently, is that all writers must must reap what they “so.”
I’ll show myself out.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
The door is on the left.
So, I have more words to add to my whiteboard it seems.
Kate has more words to look down upon her as she writes.
Close call….what do you think?
I think you can drop the “so.” I expect an updated photo of your whiteboard soon.
You aren’t overdoing it are you? Please say no.
Not at all Robin. I am a few hundred words in this morning and feeling good. I’ll take a break at 500.
Yes, I must update my whiteboard. How are you feeling after your short break away?
The break was great, but it is fantastic to be back. However, I will admit, it was lovely to not have “MUST POST BLOG” hanging over my head.
LOL yes, there is that as well. But then when you do post it, such a good feeling.
on thehomefrontandbeyond said:
I have to go over everything I write and edit out the sos as well as the justs
Guess I am “just so”
love your sense of humour in the examples you give –I will never un-follow you–so there
I won’t blame you if you did un-follow me!
Let me know what you find in your hunt for “so-s.” Maybe I am the only overuser (is that a word? If not, it should be.) of “so-s.”
Ooh, this is one I’ll have to hunt down methinks!
How Shakespearean of you methinks.
Oh shoot! I forgot to put in the post my pet peeve about when people say “sos,” as in “Just sos you know, I love Robin’s blog.” Ok to love Robin’s blog, but “sos?” Different context than “so” as a transition, but it makes my teeth hurt. Maybe it is a California thing, but I hear it all the time.
This is one I’ve been editing out in this draft. It’s such an innocuous little word and seems to make dialogue “flow.” But usually, a sentence sounds fine without it!
Because it is small (almost said “so small”), the word “so” sneaks in unnoticed. I had a lot of “I did this, so I did that.” Gets boring after a while.
I use so a lot in my MS as well as ‘now’. I know I need to weed them out but they’re such ‘teenage’ words and I write YA…
How fun to get to write in teenage-speak. “So” many rules must be thrown out the window. Well, not rules exactly, but ya know? It is like, cool.
I hope “so” isn’t one of my big offenders. If so (!), I’m not aware of it. I’ll give it a double-check.
Let me know what you find. Misery loves company. If it isn’t a problem for you, I’ll shoot a gold star over to you!
Thank you so much. You put so much hard work into this series, and I’m so grateful. So, with that said, I found 212 cheeky uses of the word “so” in my current editing project and can’t wait to start poking them. You rock, Robin!
You rock too, Maddie!
Thanks for sharing your findings. I am interested to hear how you find the process of editing out the “so-s.” Some were super easy for me to simply delete, others were more tricky. And, some had to stay! Poke away!
This was me not reading your post, but letting you know you’ve been blogrolled.
I knew you were a smart man! Tee hee.
Thank you sir! You made my day . . .
Pete Denton said:
I have more than I would like, but not too many to deal with in my next draft. Some of your other words in this series stir me in the early hours and make it impossible to sleep. 🙂 Almost.
It does make me think about my writing more though so thank you. The more often I see reminders about these types of words the more it sinks in.
I keep myself awake at night too! I worry about over-editing and taking out my “voice.” However, my “voice” is more clear when the clutter words are removed. Did that make sense?
Again, I’m glad the series is helpful (sorry about the lack of sleep). Funny . . . now when I type a word from the series, you can hear the brakes squeal as I think, “now how can I avoid using that word?”
I’m guilty of this!
If it is any comfort, “SO” am I!