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There must be a better way to phrase this. - helen-louise
There must be a better way to phrase this.
Hmm. I've caught myself overusing a word, and I'm not sure how to avoid it. Have a snippet from my current work in progress:

Despite wanting to be respectful, I couldn't let that comment slide. "So worried that you didn't even see that he was injured?"

"What?" gasped Jauffre. "Injured? Is he all right?"

"He lost quite a bit of blood, but he should be fine in the morning." I didn't add "No thanks to you". That would have been childish.

"I didn't even notice..." The monk was now quite concerned. Unwilling to torment an elderly man, even one who irritated me,...

Yes, I have somehow used the word "even" three times in a very short passage.

Are there any synonyms for "even" in this context? I did look in a thesaurus, but couldn't find anything... since I'm not even sure (ho ho) what part of speech "even" is in this context. Is it the adverb meaning "not merely this but also"? I think it is, but the synonyms given for that are all useless: indeed, nay, truly, verily, yea.

Any ideas? Go ahead and rip the passage to shreds, I'll try not to be upset. This is only the first draft anyway and I'm not hugely married to these words yet.

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Current Mood: curious curious

8 comments or Leave a comment
tiger_spot From: tiger_spot Date: 10th November 2012 07:54 (UTC) (Link)
In both dialogue appearances, you could just delete it without losing meaning. In the last use, you could rephrase to something like "Unwilling to torment an elderly man, no matter how he irritated me..." I would probably leave the first instance alone, delete the one in the monk's line, and maybe rephrase the last one depending on how the rest of that sentence goes.
booklectic From: booklectic Date: 10th November 2012 07:59 (UTC) (Link)
The last one needs to be there, but you could try just taking the first two out completely?
redbird From: redbird Date: 10th November 2012 13:07 (UTC) (Link)
I might drop it altogether from "I didn't even notice" and leave both the other uses, because they're both first-person narrative voice, the same "I" talking in the same scene.
thekumquat From: thekumquat Date: 10th November 2012 13:14 (UTC) (Link)
I just/really didnt notice...
The other ones I'd leave - it's a common enough word.
treacle_well From: treacle_well Date: 10th November 2012 14:13 (UTC) (Link)
I think it would be fine if you just left it out in some of the cases. Yes, it does add a bit of nuance, but I think the best writing undermodifies, and too much of that sort of nuance, while fine in general conversational use, actually sounds awkward if done too much in writing.

So, in this particular passage I'd leave "even one who irritated me" but settle for a straightforward "that you didn't see that he was injured." Then instead of "I didn't even notice" maybe a completely different phrase to indicate the tone. (I agree that a declarative "I didn't notice" is a mismatch for what you seem to be trying to achieve with that line.)
feanorfinwe From: feanorfinwe Date: 10th November 2012 18:26 (UTC) (Link)
"albeit" would be a possible substitution for the last one "...elderly man, albeit one who irritated me..."

The others could be left out, or the wording changed, ie. "didn't even see" to "didn't spot" etc...
firecat From: firecat Date: 11th November 2012 02:05 (UTC) (Link)
Those uses doesn't seem inappropriately repetitive to me, as a datapoint.
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 12th November 2012 15:08 (UTC) (Link)
8 comments or Leave a comment