“Just had that”

Posted by on Aug 9, 2010 in General, Randomness, Revisions | 2 comments

Nope, it’s not an expression, it’s how I remember the three words I most overuse and have to search and destroy when I finish writing.

In fact this is my fist line of revisions after I finish a story and do the initial read through for typos. I go to the Find/Replace feature in Word and start with “just” and work through the document starting at page one and eliminate all non essential uses of the word. Which, to be honest, is pretty much all of them.

Then I do “had” and then “that”.

Most times when I use these words they are unnecessary, so why do I use them? I have no idea. But I seem to be fond of them. It’s incredible helpful to do a hunt for them, especially when I’m on a word count limit and need to cut words. I love to see my word count go down by cutting unneeded uses of these words.

In fact as an exercise I wrote this entire blog post without using the words “just had that” except where they were encased in quotes. (As I read through it I ended up cutting a “that” and a “just” from this tiny little blog post how sad am I? 😉 )

I hope by eliminating these words it makes my writing tighter and flow better.

My phrase might grow with time as I  learn more of my problem words and start eliminating them from my writing.

What are your problem words? What do you hunt for and eliminate from your writing?


  1. Heh heh, my characters do a lot of eyebrow raising, sighing, grinning, and smiling. I suppose it’s normal since I move my stories forward predominantly through dialogue, but I do try and cut some of those in the end.

    Watch out for ditching too many hads. I see folks do that in my workshop and often it changes the tense of the sentence from past perfect to simple past, and sometimes past perfect is what you want!

  2. Lindsay,
    I will watch for the past perfect problem, what I find is I’m putting things in the past tense I need to write in the present tense. I might need a slight wording change or verb change to make it active voice or present tense but hunting up my “had” and “that” uses helps with that a lot.

    I don’t know what my issue with “Just” is. Honestly I think it’s like “uhm” in speech to me. I tend to say it when I get nervous and I think I tend to type “just” when I get writing.

    How very odd?

    I love dialogue too and I had to teach my self the rule about letting the tag he said/she said (insert name) disappear and not trying to spice them up. I so want to spice them up. It’s usually part of my second edit to make sure most of my dialogue tags are standard. 🙂

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