One of the biggest problems newer writers have is the word was. I overused it constantly when I first started: Henry was sweating. Margo was crying. The air conditioner was broken. Their daddy was hot. He was crying too.
It’s an ugly habit, but also a fairly easy one to break once you become of aware of the problem.
Now I’ve realized that I’ve got another word problem that needs to be addressed. It’s one of those words that can pop up when you least expect it to and that can make your sentences too wordy.
So “that” is obviously my problem.
But how do we fix it?
Half of the time, you can just delete it. Take a look at my little example up there. I know it’s a little forced, but you can rewrite it as:
“Now I’ve realized I’ve got another word problem that needs to be addressed. It’s one of those words that can pop up when you least expect it to and can make your sentences too wordy.”
I took out two of the “that”s and it didn’t change the sentence at all.
A good tip is to search your document for “that” and then check every sentence that it comes up in and see if you can just delete it.
Easy enough to fix.
Another problem is the “that that”. While grammatically correct, I still find it awkward to read.
Consider this sentence:
“Did you know that that man is Superman?”
If you rewrite it as “Did you know Clark Kent is Superman?” then you can easily purge all “that”s from the sentence. Of course, I suppose everyone involved in the conversation needs to know who Clark Kent is for the example to work, so instead it could be rewritten like this:
“Did you know the guy with the glasses is Superman?”
But you get point. “That that” is ugly and whenever possible, try to figure out a way to rephrase the sentence.
Maybe “that” isn’t your problem. Maybe it’s another word. Just do an individual word count on your document to find out which words are used too much and then try to rewrite those sentences to cut down their number.
What are some of your problems words? Do you overuse “was” and “that” or is it something else? And what do you do to fix it? Leave comment and let us know!