Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for... Just

Okay, so here's the point in the A-Z challenge where the whole pantsing it as I go fails. I haven't planned any posts this year, assuming something would come to me each day that fit with each word. But has it worked today? Nope. I should have planned at least the tricky letters...

The word 'just' has a couple of different meanings. It is used to mean right or honorable, as in 'it was the just decision'. It can mean 'merely' - which is probably its most common usage, This is the one I want to talk about here, because 'just' is one of those words I see thrown into a lot of peoples' writing far too often. Including my own.

It's a crutch word, but at the same time, it adds authenticity to a voice because it is a word people use a lot in conversation. I don't know how many times a day I'd use it, but I can guarantee it would be over ten. Well over.

So I hesitate when editing and I've come across multiple uses of 'just' in a single paragraph. Yes, it's overused and repetitive, but by taking them all out, am I dulling down my character's voice? Am I making the voice less honest by taking out something that may be a personal quirk?

In the end, I tend to remove uses of 'just' in narration, and leave it in dialogue for certain characters. Not all of them, because the last thing you want is for all your people to talk the same and share the same turn of phrase.

Is 'just' one of your crutch words? How do you deal with it and keeping your character voice honest?


  1. I have decided (after making my list of crutch words) that *every* word is a crutch word for me ^_^ Just is on there too. And though. And too. You're right, it's a fine line between voice and just plain overuse...

  2. I just want to say your post on just is just great - this is an exaggeration, of course, but you have made me realise I use just as a crutch word perhaps far too often in my general conversation. Oh, your post is great - that bit wasn't an exaggeration :)

  3. I use "just" too often as well. I just love it! :) Hehehe.

  4. I have so many crutch words that there is not paper enough.

    I don't think taking "just" completely out of a story is best practice(or out of my vocabulary), but I need to calm it down. :)

    I "just" love your topic of the day, it's "just" wonderful.

    Don't hate me.

    :) Teresa

  5. Hello, Kate! I love the word just. I know I use it far too often, though! When I'm editing, I usually remove it. Sometimes it's necessary to remain, but more often than not it's gotta go.

    But I just love using it! ;)

    Hope you're having a great week and happy A to Z!!

  6. Hahaha.. I have to say I cracked up at your saying "pantsing it as I go" ... because doesn't that mean you're pulling down its pants? vs 'by the seat of your pants' which means winging it (to double-idiom).. Anyway the image of pantsing a letter, or the A-Z challenge, made me giggle.
    :) AJ @