You Won’t Miss That


Hundreds of years ago, church worshipers would forego the use of lard, sugar, fat and butter for six weeks each spring as a form of thoughtful penitence.


Pennsylvania Dutch folk make big batches of fasnachts on Mardi Gras in order to deplete those products from the cupboards before Lent begins. Each year thousands of people make pledges to give up something for Lent… perhaps coffee or chocolate.


Me? I gave up a word for Lent – “That.”


Yes, you heard me correctly. I gave that up.


My editing group was looking closely at throw-away words. One member found more than 1,000 instances of that in her first draft, and about three-quarters of them were completely unneeded!


Ex: It was obvious that the cake was chocolate.
Better: It was obvious the cake was chocolate.


It tightens the read. Quickens the pace. Our reader’s ears don’t miss that at all.


If you would like to join my word-boycott, simply pull out some of your recent writing and have a look for that special word. Does the sentence read just as well if not better without it? Yank it out like a bad tooth.


When that is used for specificity (ex. That cake was delicious), you can keep it with a clear conscience.


Granted, your world will still spin at the same pace when you make these small changes within your writing, but at least you won’t get headaches from caffeine withdrawal because you were crazy enough to give up coffee!


I’d love to hear about what you’re writing. Send me a quick reply. I answer all emails personally.


Cheers, Demi


P.S. If you want to learn even more quick tips to improve your writing (by REMOVING words), Click HERE to download your free copy of “Throw-Away Words”.


7 Comments on “You Won’t Miss That”

  1. Demi, Two of my most used and useless words are “really” and “very”. It is so natural to use words to prop up our writing that we don’t see them until we SEE them. Lol.

  2. So how about, Obviously the cake was chocolate. Shorter yet …
    Then again, one has to wonder as what was so obvious about the cake being chocolate.

    1. If it were a Demi memoir, the preceding line would read: “My ex should’ve remembered my cocoa allergies, but…”

  3. One of my demon throw-away words is just… and it ‘just’ has to go. In a first draft of ‘just’ over 50K words, I ‘just’ found 203 justs. Most of them ‘just’ have to go. 😉

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