Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Writing 101: Even If I Over-Use Even...

Every writer has flashes of insight every so often, and thankfully I am no exception. And just the other day, while I was proofreading something, I had to scold myself aloud. I had to tell myself something: you use the word "even" too much. And I do. Are you doing it, too?

Even If I Do...

It's not the first problem I've had with "empty" words that don't really lend anything to the story that I'm writing. I even wrote an entire post about my weird habit of preceding most of my sentences with "it seems" for a long period of time. Mark Twain had a problem with the word "very." Right now, I'm even over-using "even" -- so often that I keep finding little ways to slip it into my writing, even now. 

Mainly, the word even means something that is flat and level, smooth. It also means equal. But sometimes, by people like me, the word is used to emphasize. And I have problems with a lot of the words that are used to emphasize. Lots of writers do. 

Adding a word like even is a simple way to make something stand out in a sentence, to highlight the importance of what you're saying. The trouble is, it's too easy. Look at these examples: 

He pulled out my chair, he opened the door for me, he even held my hand when we crossed the street.

Now you know that the part at the end is important, because there's emphasis there. When used this way, the word does have power. You've just got to make sure you aren't exercising that power too much. You can see where I'm using the word too much above the jump. Skip over all those bold evens, and the whole thing will read much better. 

Are you over-using the word even too much? Do what I did: highlight your evens in some way and read them. Make them all stand out, and you'll see if you're trying to make your writing stand out too much.

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