Tuesday, 15 December 2009

She knew that she was a Happy Thatter

The more that you write the more that you realise that you have some little quirks. I like that. Hmmm. Perhaps I should rephrase that. The more I write the more I realise I have some little quirks. Yes, I'm a happy thatter. Give me an opportunity and I'll give it a that. I don't mean to drop in thats here, there and everywhere but, like sufferers from Tourette's, I can't help myself. That is literally my problem.

Of course, none of my thats are, strictly speaking, wrong. They make grammatical sense. They are correct English. But they clutter up my prose like nick-nacks on a Victorian mantelpiece. The speech rhythms are clunkier. Take the Anthony Trollope title He Knew He Was Right. How much more stylish that He Knew That He Was Right. One version works, the other doesn't and all that divides them is an innocent little that.

Most documents I write I have to run a speedy search and destroy mission for superfluous thats using the Global Edit facility. It takes ages, but I'm happier as a result, and my prose reads just that little bit more easily. (That one passed the that test.) One of my writing friends is fine on thats. Her problem is adverbs. Another has a fondness for exclamation marks. We all have our writing problems. I know I am a Happy Thatter. What's yours?


Craig Davey said...

Clever typo, para3 line5.

Dashes for me. Not so much an issue of using too many, more a problem of feeling guilty when I dare to put one in - I find myself staring at them while i edit, and eager little full-stops can't wait to jump in and replace them all.

Craig Davey said...

(Err, make that para 2)

Blossom said...

'She sighed,' seems to appear a little too often, she sighed.

Oh – and I like dashes. They're punctuation with attitude.

I'm sure there are lots more problems ...

Sarah Duncan said...

The typo was on purpose of course.*

Oh, she sighed. That's one of mine too.

I was workshopping yesterday and suddenly spotted lots of seemeds. Trouble is, once you see them, they're everywhere.

(*OK it wasn't. Oops.)