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Don’t be “That Guy”

Don’t be “That Guy”

In many ways, the process of writing something this large was a very humbling endeavor.  Here is one of my more embarrassing moments.

 In August I asked several friends at work to look over the first rough draft manuscript and give me their honest opinion. One of them, Patrick, did a great job, but took great glee in busting my chops about my overuse of the word “that”.  In the office, I was “That Guy” for a week or two. 

 It appears that my writing style incorporated this particular word in places where it had no business.  It was like some pesky varmint inhabiting various nooks and crannies of the book.  I used the “find” tool in MS Word and counted 838 instances of the word “that”.  In one paragraph, it showed up seven times.  Here is one example with three instances in a couple of sentences, “I want to stand in the middle of the headquarters camp and scream that someone just tried to kill me; that someone just ran over my Hummvee and my driver . . . .But I won’t forget that things are going really wrong and really strange.

 So I spent one rainy weekend last fall executing a That Eradication Program.  I replaced it with which, and where, and when, and who, and he or she, or most often – by simply removing the word and leaving the rest of the sentence untouched.  At the end of the drill, I had removed over 700 of the 838 instances and the text was a great deal cleaner. 

 What lessons did I learn, besides the obvious?  Well, it showed me the value of having a second reader who will give honest feedback.  It humbled me, something I frequently need.  And it taught me to constantly edit the manuscript to make it cleaner and crisper. 

 Thanks again to all the people who read it and gave me their honest feedback, especially Patrick. 

 Mike Smith – no longer That Guy.

May 2010

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