I would like to talk to you today about my two favorite words, JUST and THAT. I use these two little words in everything I write ALL the time. I’ve been told several times by my critique partners, THAT it’s a big No-No and they must go. Yet, I continue to use them over and over in my work. As my father’s voice echoes in my ear, “you’re so hard-headed.” But I don’t use them because I’m hard-headed. I use them because THAT’s the way I talk.
I have been told JUST and THAT can be very annoying for a reader. Sure, I agree with THAT. So how do I fix this word dilemma? You would think the simple answer would be to JUST take them all out. Problem solved. But it isn’t THAT easy.
Am I alone in this JUST and THAT quandary? Probably not! I’m sure there are writers out there THAT use them too. Maybe yours isn’t JUST and THAT. Maybe your repetitive word is SAID, LOOKED or WALKED. You may be using them without even realizing it. I could easily drop my word count by the hundreds if I took them all out. But THAT is the tricky part.
Some of them are necessary. So how do I tell the difference? First, I do the FIND search for my beloved words. Then I read every sentence with JUST and THAT and I leave them out. I can usually tell right away if they need to be put back in, or if they can hit the road for good. But there are times when I’m JUST not sure. In this situation I do the only thing I know to do. I go with my gut.
She wanted to go with him, but she JUST wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do.
She wanted to go with him, but wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do.
Which one sounds better? Maybe for you, the answer is easy. But for me it’s JUST not that simple. Because I use these words in my daily speech, it’s hard for me to tell what the reader would prefer. I could leave them all in and say “hey, THAT’s my voice coming out in my writing.” But THAT doesn’t make it the right decision. So I keep an eye on them. I do my FIND search.
Today, I challenge you to look for your JUST and THAT’S. Or whatever may be your beloved overused words. Do you need to leave them in, or let them hit the road? You decide. If you’re not sure, ask a critique partner. If you’re still not sure, go with your gut.
Remember to Dream Big!