Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rue the Then

If you have a thousand sentences in your chapter, nine-hundred and ninety-nine COULD start out with the word "then." After all, the word triggers the next sequential event. But you don't use nine-hundred and ninety-nine thens, because we understand the action of a second sentence necessarily occurs after the previous. So why should you ever use the word?

I propose you slap yourself (doesn't have to be excessively hard) every time you use the word "then." Negative consequences tend to break bad habits.

Caveat: if you use it in dialogue to show intentional derision—you're cool.

Write Every Day!



  1. As a matter of fact, just yesterday I was slapping myself so hard, I hurt myseld. Every other word was 'then'. I hate it almost as much as 'that'.

    What's a girl to do?

  2. I never saw then as a potentially crippling word, but it does feel on occasion like I may use it in excess. Best comb through my manuscripts and see where I can do without it.

  3. It's cute because my ten year old twins write their stories for school with a then at the beginning of every paragraph. They'll even write, "This is my opening paragraph," and "This is my closing paragraph." Cute for 10 year olds, not for writers!