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ken barber

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Oh dear. Until reading this topic I believed I did not have an obsession with the word 'that' however in writing a reply to another topic in the section I find that most certainly do. Thank you for pointing out this problem. I will certainly be more vigilent in avoiding using that particular word. ;)


It is interesting I was writing what turned out to be an extremely run-on sentence, Upon reading it I found I had used the word of this topic at least 6 times in the sentence and several more in the course of the entire post. This is certainly a prolific example however I can certainly see how the word could ruin something as long as a story for many people.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Using Past Tense is also way to easy to fall into using.  The verb 'to be' and all its uses (I a,; You are; he/she/it is) tends to make the sentence Passive voice.  I am not an English major or even an English teacher but am someone who wrote loads and loads of reports, justifications, and citation over a very long time (30 years).


All of my writings were reviewed by my bosses and they pointed out the 'errors of my ways' as I used the verb 'to be' (is, was, has been, etc.) all over the place.  It took time for me to get used to writing without using those words but when I didn't use them the sentence structure became ACTIVE voice and the writings became alive and to the point.


I will admit it is virtually impossible to write your story without using that verb but anyone who is writing, when you go back and reread what you wrote, try to get rid of the verb 'to be'.  It will take some doing and you may not be able to get rid of it entirely but when you do I believe you will be (yikes) very happy with the end results.  Try it!  What do you have to lose?


And YES, my story has that verb in it, but I did my best to eliminate it where I could.  Take care!



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  • 2 months later...

So I saw this post yesterday, just browsing around the Castle, and I was intrigued by "that". I decided to check out my own story as I get it ready for the site, and was I ever surprised. I used "that" 122 times in one chapter! "That" was and unbelievable number of "thats" that absolutely needed to be dealt with. And Ken (and others), you were right - the vast majority of them I could just delete. A few I changed to "which", and a handful of others I rearranged the sentence to a much better structure, eliminating the offending "that". When I was done with my edits, I think I had maybe 20 or so left - and these I thought were appropriate uses of the word. 


I tend to write what I hear in my head, and I must hear the word "that" a lot....grin. I also used it frequently to tie two thoughts together in one sentence, or in short phrases like "with that, he ....". I agree it makes a difference in the flow of the writing to use "that" sparingly, if at all. Now if I can only turn it off in my head. Anybody got a screwdriver? I need a mental adjustment.

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