Just as some realtors are known more for listing and others for their mastery at selling, in writing some authors are known as experts at character development, while others are more proficient at plot.
However, my opinion writers must strive to master characterization and plot. We must also improve in other areas as well. Description, dialog, backstory, and the ever elusive cliff hanger are also important in crafting a well-rounded novel.
And as we grow as writers it is important to stay up on changes within the industry. For example, did you know that within the last year or so the word that, got the ax?
If you want to refer to something specific, you can simply name what you are referring to: “I’d like some more of that” can be changed to, “I’d like some more mashed potatoes.”
Sometimes you can just rewrite the sentence as: I found that the price of a haircut and color in Las Vegas is almost twice what I’d paid in Phoenix, so I may decide to “go gray.” (True, by the way). This can be rewritten as: I may decide not to color my hair anymore because the price in Las Vegas is twice what I paid in Phoenix.
Here’s more information on that usage: use that for things, but use who/whom when referring to people.“Pass the cookies to everyone who wants one.” Or, “I’d like to test drive that car.”
Finally, avoid beginning sentences with the word that and avoid phrases such as “the fact that…”
But, if you’re like me and can’t remember all of the rules concerning the word that, simply try to reword your sentences to avoid using it so often that it becomes a glaring repetition.
So, you caught my misuse above? How about a rewrite: “…to avoid using it so often it becomes a glaring mistake.”