4.10.2007

That Attack!

So I finished my novel and tucked it away in a lightly trafficked part of my hard drive. I come back a month later and I discover that somebody has been sneaking onto my computer, opening my files, and putting "that"s in the most extraneous, unneccessary places. I mean whoever did it just went hog wild. I had to root them out like I was pest control. Do you or does anybody in the devotion know anything about that?


nefarious little thatgnats aren't they?
Fortunately KY earns cigar and swill money by copyediting my cover letters. He's vanquished many an attack of the thats.
I'd offer his services but I want him to cut back on the hooch.

28 comments:

wannabe_nitwit said...

Agh! Over on another site, I recently deposited my first 200 words for comment (author of blog not agent/editor/publisher/author, but any opinion is worth it, as long as I have my trusty sack of salt).

What was the biggest complaint?

My "that" use.

Cunning little things, ain't they?

McKoala said...

I need an immunisation against 'just' disease.

Anonymous said...

You may be interested to know that that's are respected and accepted over here in the UK. It's a fact that we can make good use of them, so if you find that you have too many thats you can be assured that it's OK to send them our way.

Note, however, that we have no use for "irregardless".

Simon Haynes said...

My writing mantra? 'Careful that's not overused'

Anonymous said...

Help, I'm out of the loop here. What's wrong with 'that'?

Anonymous said...

The little blighters have been at my manuscript too! And don't get me started on the comma fairy...

Anonymous said...

Cunning little things, ain't they?

That they are.

Peter R said...

I find this little piece of software useful for eliminating the 'that/be/has/been' curse.

www.editorsoftware.com/index.html

Saves me loads of time and helps me tighten up my writing while editing.

OtterB said...

Is that where my "that's" are going? When I finish writing something, I have to go on a "which" hunt for whiches that should be thats.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my god! It has to be an undetected viris. Mine is worse. "They" put all of the these, theirs, thats and thoughs.

Ric said...

That's an idea! It's a virus that sneaks in undetected. Seek and remove "that" from 100k ms - immediately drop to 85k - ready for that snarkometer thing.

Andrew said...

What's wrong with 'that'?

There's never been a hard-and-fast rule against "that," but in general it's a weak word, and in many cases, the sentence is a little bit stronger and more direct when "that" is removed. "I know that she's lying" is a weaker sentence than "I know she's lying." If you read your own work carefully, you'll start to notice which sentences are strong and direct and which are full of filler words.

I totally sympathize with this problem. That computer-bandit filled my manuscript with the word "thing," putting sentences like, "The important thing is to be patient" instead of, say, "Being patient is important."

Anonymous said...

You surprise me. My last copy editor made war on the "which"es, replacing them with "that"s.

Ryan Field said...

This is an objective comment. If you read Jodi Piccoult (The Book of Ruth, for example)you'll see she uses "THAT" over and over again. But the story is always so well written, not to mention the subject matter, it doesn't make much of a difference. A lot of this concern over "THAT" is over rated.

Twill said...

I prefer UK usage most of the time anyway. Good to know that my that's have a home somewhere.

Heidi the Hick said...

I was horrified when I read my latest (cough, wheeze) masterpiece, and discovered a pack of JUSTS making a mess!

takoda said...

Is there a checklist for this sort of thing? I'm pretty good about using 'ly' words sparingly (Ha!), but I just did a that search on my manuscript. Now, I'm in what can only be described as a sugar coma without the sugar.

Much like Sarah Jessica Parker poses her question at the beginning of each episode of 'Sex and the City,' I'd like to pose one:

When should a writer forget about THAT and JUST move on?

elf said...

So, just possibly, the strength of my story MIGHT be enough to get my foot in the door, even if I used THAT over 1300 times in an 80,000 word MS?

WandererInGray said...

*laughs* I don't think I've had a problem with the that's - but darned if I can't keep those pesky thens out of my MS.

Shots said...

Ha! You should think yourself lucky. A regular hacker keeps breaking into my laptop and adding all sorts. Cliches, mixed metaphors, redundancies, characters with questionable motivations. It takes me forever to remove all this stuff. If you do find a way to stop it happening, please let me know!

Jean said...

One of the best things I've found to get rid of those "extra" words is a small book called The 10% Solution. You can find it at www.fairwoodpress.com.

The book is only $7 I think and the shipping is free. No, I don't get anything for promoting it...but it sure made a difference in my writing.

Jean

Gay said...

Simple solution:

Serial finds:

• that
• which
• there is/there was/there are (better descriptions exist).

Evaluate and delete and/or replace as you go. When you're done, a case of gin for you, two for Miss Snark, and hooch and cigars for KY. Everybody's happy.

The Anti-Wife said...

I feel like I'm in school again. Everyday there's something else to learn about keeping my manuscript from sucking.

The that-o-meter detected 754 "thats", only about 100 of which were really appropriate.

What next?

MaryAnnTheRest said...

I would like to know who's been inserting "Oh" as the first word in my dialogue lines.

Janny said...

mckoala, I feel yoah pain. (!)

I myself have eradicated excess "justs" with some success, but every once in awhile, the little suckers sneak back in. Then they pair with "that" and you end up with sequences of "It's just that...it's just that...it's just that..."

AAAAAAHHHHHH
Janny

Chumplet said...

It took me two hours to purge the 'thats' but I didn't count them.

I guess now I should start with the 'was' wazzez.

Mary Paddock said...

Two hours?

It took me at least two four hour sessions of using the search function in Word to ferret them all out. This was largely because I worried obsessively about the remaining sentence structure and whether to leave it in or reword the whole phrase.

I'm glad I found this thread. I thought I was all alone in this one.

I haven't gone looking for "there were" yet. God help me . . . I'm afraid to look . . .

Sonarbabe said...

Has anyone dealt with the "as" bandit? This feisty beast has caused more havoc than I care to admit to. If I ever find him, I'm going to knock him upside his melon. ;)