Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Grammar Question on "Then"

What’s your verdict on the word "then?"

I’ve read that sometimes we writers don’t use it when we should. Darnit, I wish I could think of an example that’s clear, but ... darnit. Brain’s not working this late.

But then (er ...) I don’t like how many times I’m writing "then" in a manuscript. I generally go through and take them out, but then I worry I’m taking too many out.

Obviously, you could get crazy about it. Then you’d have a mess on your hands. Then you’d have to clean it up.

7 bonus scribbles:

StarvingWriteNow 10/03/2007 06:47:00 AM  

Strunk & White have no official opinion on "then" except that it is ... an adverb. And you know what the opinion is on those!

Remind me at retreat about this and we'll have a mind-blowing, thoroughly engaging discussion that will give the entire group pangs of envy. (right...!)

Bernita 10/03/2007 08:43:00 AM  

Use sparingly, but use it if necessary.
I don't get language genocide.

Edie 10/03/2007 08:44:00 AM  

I use "then" a lot, even starting sentences with it. It's one of those words I have to watch.

spyscribbler 10/03/2007 09:54:00 AM  

Writenow, I can't WAIT until the retreat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Then" is an adverb? I had no idea. I was never good at diagramming, that's for sure!

LOL, Bernita. Me, either. The English language hardly has enough words as it is!

That's easy to do, Edie. I mean, everything happens in order, so "then" creeps into the next sentence and then the next and then the next ...

Holly Kennedy 10/03/2007 11:55:00 AM  

I think I'm okay with THEN.
But I have a bad habit of overusing THAT. Head shake.
Must... nuke.... THAT
and get a grip.

avery 10/03/2007 01:19:00 PM  

And then you'd lose your train of thought and then it would never be as good as it was first...

I had a big 'then' problem. Turns out, when I took out most of them (and a handful of other useless words like 'suddenly' and 'over' and 'up'), I cut just under two thousand bits of flotsam from my novel.

spyscribbler 10/03/2007 02:58:00 PM  

LOL, Holly. If we're going to get right down to it, my characters walk around smiling like a handful of goofy idiots. I'm pretty sure that's not what is meant by "show, don't tell," LOL.

OH, Avery! "Suddenly" and I were fighting today. God, but I want to use that word like crazy! A ton!