Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

There’s Always A Reason

One of the things I try to get out of my own writing and get people to look at in theirs is “filler phrases,” things we are used to saying that have spread beyond places where they actually mean something. Here’s another one I came across recently: “for some reason.”

In narrative, this is almost always bad filler. In dialogue, yes, people say it. But if you really don’t know the reason, there are more elegant ways to say it that don’t make the reader’s eyes slide over the words. It especially irritates me when there IS a reason. As in:

“The lights went out. Maria screamed for some reason.”

She’s screaming BECAUSE THE LIGHTS WENT OUT. It’s okay, you can just say, “Maria screamed.”

Most often I see this when people want to justify a character action but can’t build a proper justification for it. “Coming out of the restaurant after lunch, for some reason I decided I wanted a candy bar.”

It’s okay to want a candy bar after lunch. You can just say, “I wanted a candy bar.”

Or: “Coming out of the restaurant after lunch, for some reason I jumped into traffic and took my clothes off.”

Uh. No. Justify that one. If the character is being mind-controlled, then we should feel his/her sense of panic at doing things s/he doesn’t understand. If s/he is not being mind-controlled, then there IS A REASON.

There’s always a reason. “For some reason” is lazy thinking and lazy writing. Get it out of your prose.

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