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Really?

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

  1. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    The word 'really' when I think about it, has two main uses: as an emphasiser and as a clarifier (for lack of a better word).

    As an emphasiser it's like: "The building was really big."

    As a clarifier it's like: "The building wasn't that big, really."

    The general consensus, and a consensus I do agree with, is that as an emphasiser really isn't really a good thing to use, unless the voice in question is one of a child or someone some other way lacking sophistication.

    But as a clarifier I think really is perfectly fine. I mean, people use it all the time, really. And it serves a useful purpose in drawing attention to the discrepancy between two mutually exclusive statements: "the building was big" "the building was small, really"
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    In my opinion, the choice to use a word like "really" comes down to one consideration.

    Does the use add meaning or texture?

    Let's examine meaning by looking at the example Gryphos provided above:

    Here "really" acts as an emphasizing word, but as is typically the case, the same information could be given with better word choice.
    Better yet, you could simply describe the building, giving the reader a sense of size rather than simply tell them it was huge, but that's a further point to the weak attributes of words like "really". They add little or nothing. Plus, other words usually do the same job better and with greater brevity.

    As a device that adds texture, as in the example of dialogue, I won't argue that point. In my mind, that's a stylistic choice. Does your character consistently speak like this? Would that character not come off as intended if you chose not to include words like "really"? If you've made the conscious decision to utilize words like this in that manner, so be it. Just be aware that is what you're doing. It's the unintentional usages that usually weaken prose.

    Of course, like anything else, effectiveness is subjective.
     
  3. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    I've found that "truthfully" or "in reality" are good substitutes for this usage--if you're going for a higher or more formal tone.
     
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Bit hard to call. In some narrow areas and places, roughly early 19th century. Others...Roman Empire to Middle ages. Essentially a sort of Roman Empire that survived and adapted a bit.

    So far, most folks don't seem to object to the first usage. I don't see any issues with that either, it helps set voice for a child who appears only a couple times but is at the edge of the MC's thoughts throughout the book.

    Second usage, some say ok, others say weak writing. But most of the replacement suggestions are also adverbs (weak words) and I'm trying to cut down on them.

    I could go with something like:

    'His true desire was to inspect the horses in the fields outside the city.'

    Get rid of the adverb altogether - but that has a sentence starting with a pronoun - which is another issue with this tale, as its first person, meaning a risk of the 'galloping I's' as one reviewer puts it. Been cutting down on sentences starting with pronouns as well.
     
  5. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I just have a quick question, I mean no offense so please stow all weapons, are you in a calm place and this editing worry isn't any overthinking or any kind of analysis paralysis?

    No matter how you answer the question make sure you know when to stop. When you have a first draft you have a big slob of clay (or wood, metal, whatever your material), and it's in a general shape. Someone can see if it has two legs, four legs whatever. The first time you edit you're making the shape more obvious. Human or elf? Pig or hippo? Eagle or Dragon? As you edit your story your defining it, making the sculpture as vivid and detailed as possible. But you have to remember what you're presenting, what you made. Otherwise you may find you've edited to such a degree where, when you present, you're holding a glorified toothpick. Sadly one cannot "ta-da!" a tooth pick.

    I don't put much stock or faith in computer grammar stuff. For one I've seen too many sic-fi movies where things like that take over. Second a program can't honestly read a story to hear the voice and story, really feel the pauses and such, to do the job right. That's why I only use spell check. Aside from that, human brains. Humans are humanity's hope, not technology.
     
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    As stated, I use ProWritingAid mostly for spotting adverbs and 'overused words.' Because the current book is written in first person, I also use it to keep tabs on pronouns (400+ of them in 4500 words for the one chapter). Grammarly is handy for spotting misplaced or missing commas and apostrophes. I have issues in those areas.

    Both programs are far from perfect. Both object to prepositions at the end of sentences, though that grammar objection is...outdated at best. Both frequently offer alternative words that don't work. Grammarly told me that using 'foreman' was not politically correct and suggested 'foreperson' instead, to cite but one example.

    I end up rejecting close to half the advice they offer.
     
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