1. watermark

    watermark Member

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    Way too many Just's

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by watermark, Jan 27, 2017.

    I went over my manuscript and notice it's buried in just's. I can eliminate some of them, but I don't know how to alter others without changing the meaning. Is there a good substitute for just? Some uses:

    It's just ...
    Today he just...
    Just in case...
    ...just about everything...
    Just like that...
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    When I realize I've got an issue with repetition, I have a three different strategies: synonyms, omitting, and rephrasing. You've got the idea of the first one, obviously; omitting is just taking the word in question out if possible; rephrasing might end up being a nice little chunk of work, but it's worth it.

    Examples (building off of your examples):

    Synonyms: "Just over" could imply it's immediately over the hill, directly on the other side. "It's over the hill and immediately on your right". (I wouldn't use this one; sounds too clunky to me.)
    Omission: Following 'over the hill' with 'to your right' implies that it's to your right just as soon as you're over the hill, so do we really need to say 'just' at all?
    Rephrasing: Take a different approach entirely. "Once you're over the hill, it'll be on your right."

    Synonyms: Here 'just' is implying chronological immediacy. It happened abruptly. Maybe "Today he came right in ..."
    Omission: The language in the rest of the sentence implies his abruptness and attitude. Do we need 'just' to do that?
    Rephrasing: We could use a different word/phrase to imply the immediacy, like "Today he barged in ..."

    Synonyms: "It took nearly everything they had ...", "It took almost everything they had ..."
    Omission: "It took about everything they had ..." - acceptable in some dialects (wouldn't use it personally).
    Rephrasing: "Breaching the wall almost wiped them out."

    You get the idea. I always think of it on a case-by-case basis - no one solution is going to work for every scenario, so you need more than synonyms.
     
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Delete, delete, delete... you will almost never need a "just". That's one of those speaking words that hardly ever needs to be written.
     
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  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    It's a very common speaking word, so why wouldn't you write it in dialogue?
     
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  5. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    coz it's ugly.
     
  6. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    My thought is because dialogue is not speech, rather a representation of. I try to drop colloquialisms like that from my dialogue because it looks smoother to me.

    But that might just be me. I don't know.
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Just isn't a colloquialism!
     
  8. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    In the spots in which it doesn't add anything to the sentence it is. It's just (haha) one of those words that slips in there during colloquial speech. Not all uses are colloquial, though.
     
  9. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I can't think of a sentence in which just would be a colloquialism :confused:
     
  10. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I do think we need to engage dialogue separately from narrative in these kinds of discussions.

    - If it's the way a character speaks, then it's the way a character speaks. I would look to see if ALL your characters are speaking this way, and is it appropriate to who they all are.

    - If it's the narrative if a story told in 1st person, it may also be the way the POV character expresses him/herself. Again, is everyone else who we hear from in this kind of story doing the same thing, and is it appropriate to who they all are?

    - If it's some flavor of 3rd person, then I would be much more severe in its expungement.
     
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  11. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    OP I just checked the first out-of-copyright ebook I thought of (Jane Eyre) and it includes 196 instances of the word 'just'. I think most manuscripts will have quite a few instances of this perfectly normal word. I wouldn't worry too much!
     
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think the term we're actually looking for here is idiomatic.
     
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  13. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Idiomatic. Yes.

    That's my mistake in terms of word choice.

    And I'm in no way saying we should never use the word, but it's one of the words that I pay close attention to when I'm editing.
     
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  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I don't think it's idiomatic either?

    It's a valid word with multiple definitions and functions... I don't understand the issue here.
     
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  15. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Saying it is sometimes unnecessary does not mean it's not a valid word. I don't think anyone is arguing that we should eliminate the word from our vocabulary. It's a word that gets slipped in more often than it needs to.

    All I meant is we should watch its usage along with that, very, etc.
     
  16. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I'm arguing with the assertion that it should "hardly ever" be used.

    Edit: And also arguing that it's neither a colloquialism nor idiomatic. :D
     
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  17. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Do you think we should use it when it's not necessary to the meaning of the sentence? I don't necessarily agree with saying we should hardly ever use it. I just said that word is always on my list to check. It's one of the words that I use the "search and replace" function on Word for.

    And when it's not necessary to the sentence is when it becomes idiomatic/colloquial.
     
  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    In dialogue, sure. Elsewhere, treat it like any other word - no.

    That's not what I understand a colloquialism or idiom to be...
     
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  19. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It is when it starts to slip in as little more than a filler, regardless of whether it is syntactically sound in its placement. Clearly the word has a use and a reason for existing, and in dialogue it may well convey the voice of the character, as I noted above, but for me, in narrative, its overrepresentation, like the overrepresentation of any word that cannot be done without (we exclude things like articles, prepositions, conjunctions, etc., without which language falls apart) is something to be looked at critically. Regardless of correct use, how many things can logically just in narrative before we have to consider that our speaking habits are showing up in the narrative? Again, YMMV.
     
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  20. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    col·lo·qui·al
    kəˈlōkwēəl/
    adjective
    (of language) used in ordinary or familiar conversation; not formal or literary.
    -----
    I'd say when a word is not necessary to the meaning of the sentence, it falls into this category.
     
  21. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I agree that crutch words or unnecessary words should be looked at critically. But I don't think just is one that is "hardly ever" appropriate, or that it regularly has no impact on the sentence.

    I wouldn't. Anyway I thought you decided that was a mistake and you meant idiomatic? :confused:
     
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  22. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I, like yourself, have a written list of words I over-use, tacked above my computer as I write this. And 'just' is one of those words.

    It's the kind of word that 'just' creeps in, when you don't need it. I find I can eliminate about half of the 'justs' I've used, replace about half of the remainder with another word or phrase, and keep the rest of them as written.

    When a writer identifies 'weasel words' specific to their own writing, it makes sense to do a word search and get rid of some of them.

    'Just' to demonstrate, here is my list. Nothing wrong with the words themselves, but I over-use them. Or at least I did.

    somewhat
    a bit
    rather
    actually
    very
    just
    hopefully
    beautiful
    quite
    really
    possibly

    I remember Mark Twain said something along the lines of: "Wherever you use 'very' in a sentence, replace it with 'damn.' Your editor will remove it for you."
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
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  23. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I never said anything about "hardly ever." That was someone else. I said in my OP that I try to drop unnecessary words.

    Going on the Google definition of both Idiom and Colloquial, I think a word which serves no purpose but is spoken regularly falls into both categories.
     
  24. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Dialogue is fine, narration probably not so much...
     
  25. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I know it wasn't you; you quoted my reply to it.

    I don't the definitions of either word support your use but there's much point exchanging "It is!" "No it isn't!" "It is!" "No it isn't". :D Can we leave it on the positive note that we both agree words should do something in a sentence?
     
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