What’s ‘that’ all about?

Adventures in editing. [Revisiting this and that]

One of the words we writers tend to overuse is the word ‘that’. If you don’t believe me, use your search/find option in your word processor’s editing tool and see how many times you find it in your work. Obviously, it is sometimes appropriate to use ‘that’ in your sentences, but other times it can be eliminated. Here’s an example:

“I think that this gives you a chance to start over,” Vince said. 

It’s not grammatically incorrect, but it isn’t necessary, either. Instead, say:

“I think this gives you a chance to start over,” Vince said.

Here’s another example:

He arranged to add his name to the multi-business sign that graced the front lawn at the office building, and bought paint to cover the walls of his new space.

In this instance, ‘that’ should be replaced with ‘which’ (…which graced the front lawn…) but it sounds even better when written like this:

He arranged to add his name to the multi-business sign gracing the front lawn at the office building, and bought paint to cover the walls of his new space.

When I did a search for ‘that’ in Three Empty Frames, I found 806 of them!!! I’m in the process of finding all those ‘thats’ and eliminating or replacing them.

Season of Wither

Poem and artwork by Meg Sorick

The rains have come
And the birds have gone
Just the carrion crows
Cackling like crones
Gather in the bare branches
Watchful for a meager meal

Falling Hawthorne berries
And delicate dandelion clocks
Mark the passage of time
Golden gorse and crumbling
Stone walls
Creep the ages by

It is the season for reflection
When death is all around us
To close the doors and windows
On the cold and howling wind
When the brief and bitter daylight
Yields to darkness and decay

To wither or to weather?
Hidden and hermetic
Insulated, introverted
To waste these hours of isolation?
Or cling to life and dream of love
In a springtime so far away