That I needed to stop writing that so much was the first thing that I learned when I got my first newspaper job. My kind editor gently said, “nice story, but I think it would be better if we leave out most of those thats.”

That was all it took to teach me! That was many years ago; now I stomp ruthlessly through my writing slashing away thats whenever possible.

He, of course, edited me and when I looked back at my unedited version I was mortified. It was so clunky and distracting. Why had I not learned previously to usually leave out “that.”?

College English instructors with their merciless red or blue markers had almost made me unable to write — but even the hardest instructor had never told me that I used that repeatedly when it was unnecessary and junked up my message.

This tip is of real value to new writers.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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