If you’re using the word “some” in your creative writing, you’re not being specific enough.

For example, here is a sentence with the word “some.”

Tom liked to play guitar but didn’t take it as seriously as some.

Who is some? Why do they take it so seriously, and how does Tom know he doesn’t take it as seriously as they do? Does Tom really like playing the guitar or does he just put up with it?

This sentence leaves more questions unanswered than it answers. By replacing the word “some” with a more specific phrase, we can do a better job characterizing Tom:

Tom liked to play guitar but didn’t take it as seriously as his brother Jim, who sometimes came downstairs with bloody band-aids on the tips of his fingers after playing for hours.

See how much better that is. We get a much clearer picture of Tom and how he feels about the guitar. However, it’s still not perfect. There’s still a form of “some.” This time, instead of being vague about who I was vague about when.

Here’s an ultra-specific rewrite without “sometimes”:

Tom liked to play guitar but didn’t take it as seriously as his brother Jim. Jim got his first guitar for Christmas when he was fourteen. Tom was eleven, and he remembered how Jim came downstairs the next morning, his fingers all wrapped in bloody band-aids, the wince on his face as he picked up his spoon.

By placing our example in a specific time, we get a much clearer picture of both Jim and Tom. Now we know why Tom doesn’t take it as seriously as “some.” We can make an educated guess that he probably enjoys playing, that he admires his brother, but isn’t passionate about it enough to experience the pain he watched his brother go through.

If you want to bring life to your characters, stop using the word “some.” Instead, look at it as a chance to fill in the blanks in your story and in your characterization.

PRACTICE

Today, why don’t you spend some time improving your work in progress by getting rid of the word “some.”

Once you open the document for your novel, short story, or memoir, press CTRL + F (or Command + F, in OSX) and search for “some.” For each instance, see if you can rewrite some to be more specific. You can do this for some, sometimes, something, somewhere, and someday, too.

No need to share your writing today (unless you want to comment with your thoughts on the word “some”). I want you to spend some time improving your work in progress.

Have fun!