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Really?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by ThinkerX, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Ok, been editing lately, trying to get the one novel fit for beta readers.

    Editing and grammar are not my thing, hence I rely on 'Grammarly' and 'ProWritingAid' to help identify trouble issues. Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I don't and other times...well, that's where this thread comes in.

    Both programs seem to despise the word 'really.'

    I use the word in two places:

    (Octavos is a eight or nine year old kid trying to impress his father.)

    I don't see anything wrong with this usage, but maybe I'm missing something. Younger kids I am familiar with do speak that way...and so do many adults.

    Second usage - not dialogue, but a sort of commentary:

    (Casein is a former soldier with an interest in horses.)

    Now, I am looking a maybe dropping a pronoun or two from these samples, but to me the word 'really' seems appropriate in both contexts, despite what the editing programs say. I'd also point out these are the only two uses of that word out of 65,000-70,000 total. Comments?
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'd say keep it in. Online writing aids and grammar checkers are by no means foolproof. Sometimes they're just plain wrong. If they're that infrequent, it really shouldn't be enough to be jarring to anyone.
     
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  3. They seem fine to me. Computers don't know everything, mate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
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  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Keep both. Dialogue is dialogue. In the second example it adds emphasis.
     
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  5. [​IMG]
     
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  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I abhor grammar software like nature abhors a vacuum.
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I'm not that fond of them either.

    Mostly, I use Grammarly for spotting misplaced or missing commas and apostrophes (I have continuing issues with these), as well as the odd bit of passive voice or wordiness.

    ProWritingAid is good for keeping track of adverbs (another problem of mine), along with 'overused words' and so called 'sticky sentences.'

    But I end up ignoring about half the things they claim are wrong (like prepositions at the end of a sentence). What got me here was BOTH programs saying to never use 'really.'
     
  8. I see what you did there.
     
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  9. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    IMHO, they're both fine. I use writing software to help do final polishes. Tons of things gets flagged that are perfectly fine. You have to treat it like it's a critique. Some info will be correct. Others won't be.

    Writing software points to things that could be potential problems. You still have to make the final determination.
     
  10. acapes

    acapes Sage

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    Another vote for keep them both. Especially the one in the dialogue, yeah
     
  11. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    What's wrong with really anyway? Is it that it's an adverb or ends in -ly or something?
     
  12. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    It's a weak way to emphasize something. Instead of using words like "really" or "very", it's generally good advice to choose stronger nouns or verbs.

    But they don't need to be totally eliminated, and in this case the two examples were a) part of a realistic child's speech pattern and b) part of a common phrase. Obviously, there are situations where "really" or "very" work better than any other word--as there are situations where other words work better than they do.
     
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'll break the trend a little bit.

    The first example is a good usage as you're using it, imo, to establish character voice.

    The second example, though, just doesn't seem like good technique. The sentence doesn't demonstrate, to me anyway, either a strong author or a strong character voice. The "emphasis" added by the word just doesn't seem needed to me. Were the sentence contained in my writing, I'd delete that usage of the word "really" as being what I consider poor technique.

    On the other hand:

    "That book sucked; the author used 'really' in a way that demonstrated slightly less than optimal writing technique. I'm going to never read this guy again," said no reader ever.
     
  14. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'm using really quite a lot under certain conditions:
    I think here it's more a case of internal monologue than me as a narrator trying to describe something to the reader.
     
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Svrtnsse,

    I like the use of "really" to create character voice as you have. I tend to use it a lot as well in that context. Also "great," and, my favorite, "Fan freaking tastic."

    In your example, though, I'd say there is entirely too much repetition. Readers tend not to like things being repeated. Repeating things tends to get annoying. And readers don't like to be annoyed. Repetition leads to annoyance.
     
  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    lol so true.

    I agree that the first usage is good. The second is questionable. I would be wary of using "really" with your narrative voice. It's not a usage that sounds very... mature or elegant. I know that I tend to use it far too much because I use it too much in real life too and it's something I have to watch out for because I do feel like it waters down the prose a bit. I might suggest swapping it with "truly" or just restructuring the sentence completely.
     
  17. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    This would be my instinct for that sentence if it was part of my medieval serious-fantasy story--but if I was writing with a more contemporary-sounding character or a more casual setting, I'd leave it, because "but what he really wanted to do" is a familiar modern phrase. I think it depends on voice; either could work.
     
  18. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I tend to have a lot of teenage protagonists and, like Nimue, write contemporary sounding characters. Overall, "really" really works to make the character sound less ... mature and elegant. So ... yeah.
     
  19. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    True, but I got the impression the setting wasn't contemporary. And the subject in the second line is a former soldier so I assumed he wasn't young. I could be wrong, obviously, since there's only 2 lines to go on.
     
  20. johnsonjoshuak

    johnsonjoshuak Troubadour

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    What time frame is your story set in?

    I'm going to go against the grain here and say that perhaps there are better words to use.

    The reason being is that "really" isn't very specific. It's an empty modifier like "very" or "kind of". I would have to think on those sentences to come up with good alternatives, and the context is important too.
     
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