Oh no! Not the not’s!

I’ve talked before about the really very weak adjectives that are used too often in my post ‘it’s really very unnecessary’. I thought I’d slink back to that subject to discuss the not so good adjective use. Something I’m guilty of doing.

This is worse than using weak adjectives such as really and very, it’s when I start using ‘not’ to say what isn’t opposed to saying what is.

For example;

It’s not hard. > It’s easy.
It’s not very tasty. > It’s gross. or It’s disgusting.
He’s not really mean. > He’s nice.
They’re not expired. > They’re fresh.
That isn’t hot. > It’s cold.

Even with my few examples of ‘not’ the really’s and very’s snuck in.
How would this look in my writing? I just happen to have an example.

Dale grabbed Amber from behind wrapping his arms around her waist and laughing when she yelped in surprise. 
“Crap Dale! You scared me half to death.” She said nervously as she turned around. “That was not nice.”
“You’re not paying attention today. It wasn’t hard to sneak up on you.” Dale kissed her tenderly then asked. “How was Scott today?” 
“He wasn’t mean. I think he regrets what he did and isn’t acting weird.” Amber frowned and looked away. 
“But?” Dale prodded.
“Scott wasn’t my problem today. I found out something about myself that was not flattering.”
Dale took her hand in his. “Let’s go back to your place and we can talk about it.”
Amber nodded, squeezed his hand and sighed contentedly as they started walking. (127)

I even had some contracted not’s in the form of Wasn’t, but not all of them have to go. Like with all things, moderation is key.

Dale grabbed Amber from behind wrapping his arms around her waist and laughing when she yelped in surprise. 
“Crap Dale! You scared me half to death.” She said nervously as she turned around. “You’re mean.”
“You’re distracted and easy to sneak up on.” Dale kissed her tenderly then asked. “How was Scott today?” 
“He was nice. I think he regrets what he did and is acting normal.” Amber frowned and looked away. 
“But?” Dale prodded.
“I found out something unflattering about myself.”
Dale took her hand in his. “Let’s go back to your place and we can talk about it.”
Amber nodded, squeezed his hand and sighed contentedly as they started walking. (112)

With some or all of not and it’s contractions highlighted such as I suggested in my post “well colour me silly” I was able to focus on them and remove the negative and redundancies. I also read the dialogue aloud and the not’s and whatnot’s did sound better removed or changed.

Not only did I fix some awkward naughty-not’s but I was able to do my favorite thing and reduce word count by 15 words. Not a huge number but a good start. I’m super guilty of this, so I add not and version

My advice about Not not-ting.
Highlight them and then proof read, if they are necessary or fit in perfectly then keep them. Otherwise I suggest cutting them out. 

-Sheryl

Related posts to this one that are worth a read.

Well colour me silly

It’s really very unnecessary

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Nervous

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15 thoughts on “Oh no! Not the not’s!

  1. A very helpful post! I have a question though, even in my mother tongue we tend to use good bad and not bad. So it sort of creeps in and sounds natural and cool. Although I do agree that your edited version looks better. But is it okay to mix and match, or sort of cheat and use ‘not’ once in a while?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say to use your best judgement. In my opinion, if it’s creeping in too much then it’s time to trim some out. That goes for most of the things I talk about. Moderation is key IMO. I know I have some and sometimes it sounds right for the dialogue uses so i’ll leave it in.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the naughty nots! snicker snicker. It’s true though, I have noticed they creep in and have to be weeded out and the sentence always sounds better and often greatly improved by taking them out. thank you for the reminder! appreciate it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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