Monday, December 3, 2012

A Terrible Four-Letter Word! By Linda S. Glaz

A peeve of mine is the use and overuse of the word just and I am so quick to point it out to anyone submitting to me. I also make sure when I present at conferences that I weasel it into any and all presentations.
…let me back up a bit. I recently had to complete final edits for one of my books. I nearly choked as I read the novel for what must have been the umpteenth time. I took out 23 extraneous justs but left about 40 others. Didn’t want to press my luck in the “only important changes” department.
How awful, how unprofessional, and how humiliating. I can only hope no one else notices quite as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong, I read that word abused every single day, and even with bestselling authors, but should they overuse the word?
I just don’t get it. If you just try, you can write without it. Just think about it for a second. Just about every story has plenty of justs, and you just don’t need them. I, however, just can’t help using them. They just get the point across with little effort.
See what I mean? So easy to fill space with that little four letter word.
I know I harp on this topic over and over, but it continues to rear its ugly head. After reading my own novel for errors, I realized it isn’t “others” who do it, we all do.
Is there a word you “just” can’t seem to write without?


Jennifer Major said...

Who, me?
Oh my.

jill said...

Just guilty as charged. Thanks for the reminder to look more closely.

Davalyn Spencer said...

"Up" was my latest offender. I have a list of weasel words stuck to my computer. When finalizing a manuscript I do a "Find" search on those words and the results are usually horrifying. However, as I go back through the story and terminate the weasels, the writing tightens up - oops.

Jevon said...

I never considered "just" but I think "then" also falls in that category. I try to take them out of my 2nd drafts as much as possible.

Meghan Carver said...

I remember writing a paper in middle school. It was my first experience with a minimum word count. It was a team project and my co-writer and I couldn't figure out how to meet the count. There wasn't any more substantive information we could add. (Don't you love the middle school mind?) Our solution was to thrown in a THAT every where it would fit. So glad I don't have THAT problem anymore!

Joanne Sher said...

My characters sigh WWWAAYYYY too much. And I use just too much too. Needed the reminder. Love you use wordle to see what my most common words are.

Rick Barry said...

My "just" is "that." I strive to eliminate unnecessary "thats" as I write the rough draft, but I know I will find some later. Maybe it's like the parable of the wheat and the tares. An enemy is opening my manuscript at night and sprinkling in a handful of "thats" while I sleep. Thanks to the search function in Word, I can seek and destroy them before submitting.

Linda, thanks for standing up for Truth, Just-ice, and the American Way! ;)

Anonymous said...

When people use the word "JUST" when they pray it bothers me. I don't want to limit to just those things my small brain can conceive.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

I've been working hard on eliminating unnecessary "that"s in my current novel.

But I JUST wrote a blogpost and realized I'd used "just" just about two times in the space of two sentences. Just, WOAH. Grin. (Oh, I also overdose on exclamation points in my emails to my friends. Thankfully, I restrain myself when writing books).

Walt Mussell said...

Another irritating word to be eliminated. Thanks, Linda.

Linda Glaz said...

Thanks for the humor everyone. Now here's an interesting side note. I took out virtually all of my thats in my last manuscript, and my editor went right behind putting them back in...sigh. Is there no end to the cruelty?

Amanda Stephan said...

Just and tht seem to be my worst foes. Working on it...thanks for the reminder. :)