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Author Topic: Alternatives to the word "so"  (Read 390 times)  

Offline David Chill

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Alternatives to the word "so"
« on: December 06, 2017, 06:59:21 AM »
So, as I'm reading a draft of my new novel, I discover I am using the word "so" far more than I'd like in dialogue.

"So, you're going to go back to New York."
"So, the cops are thinking of charging him with murder."
"So, you work most evenings."

Any alternative words you can think of? Just so I'll know....

Aaarrrrgh!

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Offline Mercia McMahon

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2017, 07:02:17 AM »
In all of your examples drop the so and make it a question.


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Offline A Fading Street

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2017, 07:10:11 AM »
What Mercia said.

This is one of the commonest habits I see when I'm editing and is incredibly easy to not spot as you go through your own stuff but the answer is, as Mercia says, just take them out (or at least most of them). :)
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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2017, 08:55:08 AM »
Do multiple characters use "so" in dialogue or just one?  If it's just one character, I'd chalk it up to it being the way that character speaks.

Otherwise, another alternative might be "I understand" as in, "I understand you're going back to New York."  Or, "I hear the cops are thinking of charging him with murder."  Another could be, "I'm told you work most evenings."

Lots of ways to vary it up.  "Word on the street is that cops are thinking of charging him with murder."  Or, "John told me you work most evenings."  Also, "Sources tell me you're going back to New York."

Depending on the context of the conversation, you could do something like: "I've packed my bags--I can't stay here another minute!"  "Then, you're going back to New York?"

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2017, 09:06:12 AM »
I tend to do the same thing with "well". You have have to try to keep an eye on it as you write, then go back in editing and take out most of them. You can keep some, of course, but try to remove it everywhere it doesn't have a significant positive effect on the tone/meaning of the sentence.

Online Marty South

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2017, 10:09:09 AM »
Thus
Therefore
Hence
Ergo
Consequently
Subsequently
Because of which
It stand to reason
As it happens
I see
It appears
Truly
Certainly
Verily
It came to pass

Online randallcfloyd

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2017, 10:52:21 AM »
The way I see it, you have three options in dealing with the dreaded word "so":

1. Just leave it (you'll end up annoying the heck out of your readers)
2. Delete every single instance of said word; put a rubber band on your wrist - then every time you use the word in the future just pull that lovely little reminder back about 4 feet and let go - I promise you'll stop using that word.
3. Make up your own word to put there instead of "so."

I think the third option would be the most fun, but that's just me.

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Offline David Chill

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2017, 12:04:24 PM »
Do multiple characters use "so" in dialogue or just one?  If it's just one character, I'd chalk it up to it being the way that character speaks.

Otherwise, another alternative might be "I understand" as in, "I understand you're going back to New York."  Or, "I hear the cops are thinking of charging him with murder."  Another could be, "I'm told you work most evenings."

Lots of ways to vary it up.  "Word on the street is that cops are thinking of charging him with murder."  Or, "John told me you work most evenings."  Also, "Sources tell me you're going back to New York."

Depending on the context of the conversation, you could do something like: "I've packed my bags--I can't stay here another minute!"  "Then, you're going back to New York?"

Thanks everyone. This in particular is very good, I also like the idea of turning these into questions, but it's not always feasible. Yes, it is mostly one character who says this, but as I'm editing, I see it bleeds into other people's comments as well.

I think all of us have a few key words we default to in order to keep the story going as we're writing. The tricky part is to use them judiciously.

David Chill

Offline EmilyProofs

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2017, 12:37:47 PM »
Hi OP, chiming in to agree with the above suggestions to just delete them. "So" is passive voice and weakens your writing. Some people lean on adverbs, some people lean on "so." Don't worry about it while you're drafting, but remove them while editing and your work will be stronger for it. Good luck!
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Online Jim Johnson

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2017, 12:57:48 PM »
It's a crutch word in real life dialogue, like 'um' or 'like'. I'd delete most instances of it if it's one character, or change them into questions as suggested above.

Offline notjohn

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2017, 03:11:29 PM »
I rather like the "so."

But obviously, as others have said, not every character would use the locution. But if it's just one -- well, that's just him! (or her!).
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Online Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Alternatives to the word "so"
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2017, 05:57:22 AM »
What Mercia said.

This is one of the commonest habits I see when I'm editing and is incredibly easy to not spot as you go through your own stuff but the answer is, as Mercia says, just take them out (or at least most of them). :)

This right here. When editing, I end up removing this word more than any other. It is a "crutch" word that rarely adds value to the context.

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