Monday, April 19, 2010

My big ol' but

(Note: This post was originally titled "I have a problem with my but" -- I was a little worried about what Google would bring. Even now, I am a bit concerned.)

Last week, I asked if anyone had experience with AutoCrit or any other editing software. I wanted a program that would flag if I had repeated words or phrases and similar glitches because, frankly, after eight drafts, I am just a tad bit overfamiliar with my manuscript. And overfamiliarity breeds typos.

I signed up for AutoCrit ($47 for a 1 year membership) and ran a few chapters through. With the wizard, you cut and paste a single chapter in (or up to 5000 words at a time) and select the report you want to run.   I selected the report on overused words (-ly adverbs, just, that, conjunctive phrases, was construction and so on) on one chapter and noticed the conjunctive beginning box was checked. When I looked through the highlighted, I found a whole bunch of buts. I'd never noticed this glitch in my writing before so I went back to my manuscript and highlighted every but in there.


At first I wasn't sure whether it was a problem, so I went to Strunk and White and asked them. As usual, they sniffed down their noses and said "The too frequent use of but as a conjunction leads to the fault (of) loose sentences. Loose sentences are common in easy, unstudied writing. The danger is that there may be too many of them."

S**t, if you'll pardon the pun.

I am now much better friends with yet, however, although, and except.

But that's OK.


  1. We all have those little pet words we overuse. BUT without them, what fun would the 8th draft be?

  2. I think the over-application of rules can also be problematic. Strunk and White would have a field day with a masterpiece like "Subterraneans" for example--so I wouldn't be overly concerned, unless I felt that the word usage negatively affected the tone.

    Never checked out one of those programs but it sounds like it's worth a look. Nice post, and thanks for stopping by my place and becoming a follower. :)

  3. You're right, Lola. I'd be bored without my little glitches!

    Thanks for following, Jon Paul. Strunk and White generally tick me off because they are so pompous about the whole thing.

    I've decided I like AutoCrit because it is mechanical. It picks up repetition that I might miss, but leaves the grammar rules alone.