Friday, October 29, 2010

That, or Something Like It

What pearls of wisdom shall I impart today?

Sorry. I'm blank. I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo and trying to get another MS to be something resembling readable, so I'm a little writing-exhausted. Life is easy, editing is hard.

Do you know how many uses of "that" I have? Almost six hundred. What is it about the word "that" that makes it so attractive and yet so hated?

First of all, that can be used in a variety of ways: pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition. So it's a very flexible word, which certainly makes it easy to use (I have an average of four a page--a bit much). "That" is most commonly abused when used just preceding the subject/object of a sentence, i.e. "Let's go back to the restaurant that I ate in last night." In this sentence, "that" can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence, making it useless.

I also tend to use "that" as a replacement word. Sometimes it's for "the" (like: "You know that sun?" instead of "You know the sun"; makes me want to hit myself) but sometimes I use it when "it" or "any" would be more appropriate. "That was the reason he went with her" can be replaced with "It was the reason..." Finally, I like "that made." I'm not sure why. It just seems to be stamped all over my manuscript.

So tell me: what are your problem words/phrases? How do you find them and deal with them?


  1. I overuse "that," but I'm weaning myself off.

    I have to be careful of repetition overall.

    Happy writing.

  2. I over use the word "and". Life is easy, but editing, I agree, very hard!
    Keep on writing!

  3. Hi, I found your blog through Theresa's -- nice to meet you! I have many overused words in my writing. One of the most irritating is "really". :-\

  4. "That" and "Was" I use as replacement and i know I shouldn't.
    Oh hi by the way- I'm her haunting you from the blog haunt.

    Looking forward to reading more from you.

  5. You're doing NaNoRiMo?
    Me too!
    I feel like I'm nuts though, flying in blind this time with only a rough idea and no structure or characters to speak of.
    Let me know if you need a pep talk. I'm here for ya!


Please validate me.