Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Do you overuse this word in your #writing?

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read came from a literary agent question and answer page about how to submit a query. I have no recollection of who the agent was, but her advice stuck with me. She said that before sending in any work, look it over and  check for the word ‘that.’ It is an overused word which most times can be removed and have no affect on the sentence.
She told the writers to read the sentence out loud without the word ‘that’ in it. If the sentence needed the word then it could be replaced with which or something else. But sometimes ‘that’ is the best word.

I went through my WIP and saw that I had gravely overused the word.  A major thatectomy was undertaken. I was surprised such a small change could make a huge difference in the word count.

Is there a word you overuse?  ‘Just’ perhaps? I’m guilty there too.

14 comments:

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    1. Not from what I read in Absolute Surrender. I think you've learned the lesson.

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  2. I do too. Time to run my "find" tool. le sigh.

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    1. Lol. The "find" tool is wonderful.

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  3. "Thatectomy" LOL - Guilty for many years but recently learned the same lesson. I'm aware of it but I'm sure I still do it :)

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    1. But it's good you can catch yourself doing it. (I initially put a that in the sentence)

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  4. Good advice and now I need to go check to see how many times I overused this word. I am also guilty of using "just" way too much. It sure can make you cringe when you realize how many times you have made these kinds of mistakes.
    Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Your welcome Julie. It's the little things that make a piece good.

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  5. I am re-editing my very first novel (LOITERING SHADOWS) first published in 2010, and I have come across 'that' a lot! I'm deleting 'that' without major problems.

    You're correct. I will look out for others. I'm guilty of using 'just' too. Lol!

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    1. Lol. I'm glad you are catching them, Stella.

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  6. I am at my learning stage and your advice is timely.

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    1. I'm glad I could be of help, Omolara. I hope you are enjoying being a writer.

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