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Clarion Writing Prompt #26 – That

November 30, 2010

Funny how you can’t spot a bad habit until you’ve overcome it. Then it yells at you like a car alarm. I used to be too fond of “that” for referring to the business in preceding lines. Here’s an example from book 1 of my SF saga, The Courtesan Prince, published in 2005. Modified a little for context but preserving the thats.


“I do not wish to fight D’Ander for the privilege of executing Perry D’Aur,” said Di Mon.
“That’s not very Vrellish of you!” H’Us complained. “Considering it was your heir!”
“Perry D’Aur is innocent of that.”

 


I owe thanks to proof-reader and fellow writer Anne M. Stickel for discovering I was too fond of ‘that’. Today, I would replace the last line with: “Perry D’Aur is innocent of my heir’s death.” Or strengthen the preceding line to “Considering your heir was her victim!”, eliminating the weaker reference to the dire deed, and changing the next line to “Perry D’Aur is innocent of murder.” But I wouldn’t replace the emphatic ‘that’ in “That’s not very Vrellish of you!”

What do you think? Feel free to share your own example or opinion.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 10:39 am

    In fairytales I find it very easy to overuse Would. A story of mine was slowing down in places, but I wasn’t sure why. A wise critiquing friend told me I had got “lost in the woulds” and highlighted every use of would…. yeah, don’t put would in every sentence! Even if it is a fairytale.

    • November 30, 2010 3:11 pm

      Good example! Thanks. Lost in the woulds.🙂 Most appropriate for fairy tale critique.

  2. November 30, 2010 8:26 pm

    “That” is definitely one of the Overused in my vocabulary. Eeek. Apparently I am particularly fond of awkward prose that focuses on that particular word in a way that most people would find appalling in that sort of thing.

    Dr. Phil

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