Speaking of breaking news...
Last week I heard of a new study that, in short, found that "make-up makes women seem competent." Did you hear about this? I encountered the story on the radio, tv, and internet. Apparently, this was big news.
My interest in the headline lies in that pesky word "seem." I recently read a book on writing where the author stated that women tend to use "seem" more frequently than men, and that, more often than not, this word weakens their writing. So, ladies, if you're hoping to come across as competent, cake on the mascara and start slashing "seem" from your manuscripts.
It's easy to see how "seem" can weaken a statement. Compare "It's cold out," to "It seems like the breeze is bringing the temperature down a bit." Or "I was mad" to "It seemed like the way that he reacted to my statement made me angry."
I have a tendency to use "seem" in my writing. I also have a tendency to preface questions with an apology, and to qualify statements I make about almost anything.I'm trying to resist these tendencies, but it's not easy. Just the other day, my sister asked me to proofread a paper for her. I was surprised to find that my sister, who is, quite simply, brilliant, had riddled her paper with that unseemly word. I typed out a comment in the margin, and then, after I read it, I couldn't help but laugh. The comment said: "It seems like you are using 'seem' a lot."
What can I say? Old habits, be it blue eyeshadow or self-doubt, die hard.