In his excellent book on the craft of writing (On Writing), Stephen King presents a diatribe against the unnecessary use of adverbs. He wasn’t as hard on adjectives and I think he should have been. Both are modifiers, which are words and phrases that weaken or even uglifiy what otherwise might be good writing, by adding layers of fat to what was elegant prose. This is certainly not new thinking, yet, lately the use of the word, “so” has grown exponentially as a modifier of the phrase, “Thank You.” It’s no longer adequate to express one’s gratitude to another for anything by simply saying, “thanks,” “thank you,” or even “thank you very much.” It’s come to be expected that a complete “thank you” includes the phrase, “so much,” as in “Thank you, so much.”
On the page the word, “so,” appears innocuous, particularly since it consists of but two letters, but recently it has invaded and cheapened the phrase, “Thank you.” I suspect that “so” initially entered the lexicon as a way to enhance “Thank you,” and/or to take the place of the word “very.”
Part of what bothers me is how much equals “so much?” Is it measured as a percentage of the original Thank you? That would be difficult to quantify, but perhaps not as much, because that original thanks refers to an action done by someone else that engendered the original thanks. Now the word, “so” has become overused to the point where it no longer enhances the original Thank you. And modifying our prose rarely strengthens the text; instead the writer feels the need for a crutch and the result is weakened writing.
Thank you for reading this.
2 responses to “Fat Prose”
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