1. Awz
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    Awz New Member

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    Alternative to VERY.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Awz, Jul 2, 2016.

    So I've got a plot bunny that I have actually been able to make a part of character development.

    There are creatures in my book that are skittish and rarely seen. "very rarely seen." I'm trying not to use very except in a few locations and in dialog. To get an idea of how rarely these creatures are seen. The places I go camping are tromping ground for black bears. I've seen moose, wild cattle, coyotes, salamanders, lizards, snakes, and deer. I have friends who have seen apparitions and heard voices in the woods. Even one guy who claims to have seen big foot. I'm sure large quantities of alcohol were involved in that one. However, I have not talked to one person who has seen a black bear in these areas (except forest service employees). I know they're there, they make the news at least once a summer and a few years ago there was a fatality from a black bear attack. My creature has a reputation similar to coyotes, a bane to farmers, but are more cat like (good at hiding). I can't figure out how to portray that without using 'very'. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    elusive? fugitive? shy/timid? evasive?
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    extremely rare?
    i.e. - Spotting them is extremely rare.
     
  4. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    You can explain it in dialogue between characters?

    "You ever seen one of those?"
    "No, but Jimbo seen one a few years back. Still goes on and on about it."
    "Jimbo's a drunk. His jib flaps harder than a sailboat in a typhoon."
    "I don't know what to tell you, Partner. Ain't no one else ever claimed to see it."

    Why I envisioned this scene in southern dialect? I can't be sure. Obviously my example is lame, but it's a good way to get your point across without using your voice as the narrator.
     
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  5. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Are they reasonably common but good at avoiding detection, or are they actually rare too?

    What context do you want suggestions for - casual dialogue, formal narrative, brainstorming so you have a list of options...?

    @Spencer1990 's suggestion is good because you can characterise at the same time. @Lifeline has offered some nice adjectives. Other possibilities: cryptic, hidden, covert, occult, surreptitious, camouflaged, stealthy, concealed, sparse, scarce, seldom [seen/observed/detected/reported/etc]. Or if they're only known from tall tales: apocryphal, arcane, unsubstantiated, enigmatic...

    Slightly off-topic, but there's a common ecological saying that may be of use to you: 'Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence'.
     
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  6. Awz
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    Awz New Member

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    Thanks guys. Some very helpful suggestions. Dialog won't work as my character is currently alone, unless you count the dog. They are seen, just not often. Later in the book the character comments about keeping them away from his flock of sheep with a sling. They are just good at keeping themselves concealed especially around people. I think evasive is about what I'm looking for. Spencer, I liked it gave me a chuckle.
     
  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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  8. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I can't wait to get my manuscript out and search for 'very' and see what I can use instead. Love this article.
     
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  9. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Ok, 56 times in 54,500 words :eek:. I don't think it's catastrophic, but I must be able to change some of them at least. What concerns me more is how many times I've used 'every'. I know what I'll be doing tomorrow night!
     
  10. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Mightn't be such a chore; some of those finds might be embedded in larger words @Brindy like 'discovery' and 'everywhere' for example.
     
  11. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    No, I've already discounted them, unfortunately.
     
  12. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    Does it have to be rarely seen? Could it be something along the lines of "almost never seen?" Or "they make their presence known, but are never seen."
     
  13. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Ok, task completed. What I did find is that this doesn't cover all occurrences, and rarely in the negative. However, I did find by moving words around in some sentences I could get rid of 'very' completely.

    Example: he lost interest in them very quickly, changed to he quickly lost interest in them.

    This proved a very interesting exercise ;)
     
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  14. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Now it's time to look for 'slightly' :p
     
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  15. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Noooooo! Really? What's wrong with slightly?:confused:

    Just checked... 6. That's ok, surely?
     
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  16. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    "Don't be kind of bold, be BOLD!"
    --William Zinsser
     
  17. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I'm just extrapolating the lesson (for me) already drawn from the thread and applying it to a similar (using the antonym in this case) scenario. Pssst, no paragon here @Brindy—learning too. :) But... couldn't slightly warm be tepid? Slightly green be jade? I figure in written speech 'slightly' is fine, it's how people talk. Yes?
     
  18. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Valid points. I have just looked again. I have a door that was pushed against and opened slightly. I have a slightly puzzled expression, the ground began to move slightly...

    I think it's worth me having another look.
     
  19. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    I really have nothing else to add to this thread, but I'm finding it very useful!! Thank you for that!!
     
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  20. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Not that there is anything inherently wrong with those examples you gave but let me throw some alternatives for the sake of discussion.

    1. The door was cracked open.
    2. Puzzled expression. (I don't think it's necessary to have a slightly puzzled look but I don't know the context)
    3. The ground began to rattle. (This one depends on context as well but rattle, to me, seems more appropriate than "slightly move")

    Again, this is strictly for discussion and I'm sure if one were to take the time they could come up with far better examples.
     
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  21. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Nice suggestions, thank you.

    The ground moving slightly is the one I'm struggling to find the right word for, can the earth shudder? My sentence is There was a hint of a tingle coming up from the earth around the tree roots and the ground began to shudder under their paws. Rattle suggests noise to me, and this is more about the feel.
     
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  22. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Tremble? shudder also works.

    And yes, rattle does connote noise. I fully agree.
     
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  23. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    and your quiver, don't forget your tremorsome quiver...
     
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  24. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    quiver is good too. Especially if you want to personify the tree or something. That could work very well.

    ETA: Again, I don't know the greater context of the scene so make of these suggestions what you will. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
  25. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Quiver would work for the tree, but it's the ground that moves. Quiver to me suggests delicate, which I can apply to the ground. (Plus it really reminds me of bows & arrows :p )

    I love the help this forum generates, thank you for your input guys.
     
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