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"But" writing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sirvaliantbrown, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. I feel as if I've fallen into a writing rut in which I way-too-often set up "but"s.
    Smith, 43, doesn't like basketball. But when the Sacramento Monarchs are on TV, he can't turn away.

    John Thompson likes cheese - a lot. But, today, he is eating an orange.
    Those examples are (obviously) both fake and bad, but (see!) that's what I've been doing. And it's bad - or, at least, uncreative, especially when it becomes my first lede-construction instinct.

    How do I get out?! How do I stop?!
  2. Dickens Cider

    Dickens Cider New Member

    I don't know how to avoid it. But I'm sure someone will.

    I'd wish you luck. But luck has nothing to do with it.
  3. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    Sometimes, going away from buts and thoughs and howevers can be a great writing tool.

    John Thompson likes his cheese.
    Cheddar, mozzarella, munster. All kinds. Swiss, even.
    He eats it three times a day, sometimes more. It dominates his diet the way garlic dominates breath.
    Today, he is eating an orange.
    Today, he discovered he is lactose intolerant
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    One of my pet peeves: Writers who string together two, three or even four sentences that start with "But." Reading it is like being a puppet, the guy holding the strings taking you right, then left, then right, then left again in rapid sucession. Besides, it just reads (sounds) bad. Seems to show up in deadline writing a lot.

    Remember reading one nationally respected columnist who could be counted on to double- or triple-up on his "but"'s in every damn column. Drove me nuts. Vowed I would never do it. And haven't, at least one writing tic I avoid. :p
  5. TheMethod

    TheMethod Member

    Oddly, I have the opposite problem. I an constantly beginning sentences with "And." It's really starting to piss the shit out of me.

    And I'm not being sarcastic.
  6. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    GBNF nailed it. Go through your copy, take out sentence-opening conjunctions and you'll likely find it reads better. The key for that is in the setup, as GBNF exemplified.

    That works if you've got space to set it up, though I find "though" a bit more palatable than "But" and use it where I would normally use "But" when you don't have space for a windy set-up (if it's not in the lede, for example, but perhaps further down in the copy).


    John Thompson likes cheese - a lot. Today, though, he is eating an orange.


    The last time Weber faced the smaller Mustang defenders he dominated in the paint, pouring in 26 points and 19 rebounds. This time, though, Bumblefuck High had an answer.
  7. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    I had a writer try bitching me out for editing his copy. Being the new guy, i was real cool about it.
    But every other sentence started with "but." And, "and."
    However, he did throw in some "howevers" every now and then. Though, each time he did, it seemed like it should have said "but," instead.
  8. Maybe it's just me, but I cringed at the garlic line. But the rest is pretty good. And I'm serious. However, I'm not joking.
  9. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    This time, Bumblefuck High had an answer.

    The 'though' is not needed in this sentence since 'This time' tells the reader it's a different time than the last time.
  10. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    True, bad example, though I hope the intent comes through.
  11. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    i SO want to know how that story ends
  12. amraeder

    amraeder Well-Known Member

    Hopefully with a ninja. Or a dragon. Or a dragon-ninja.
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