Continuing my series on needless words and tighter writing, we have part II. Feel free to review Part I here. As ever, I suggest grabbing your manuscript and applying what you've learned while it's fresh in your mind. Make it stick!
THAT and THERE:
The word "that" has three functions. It's used as a demonstrative pronoun, to introduce a restrictive clause, and as a complimentizer.
A demonstrative pronoun acts as a noun or pronoun. It is often acting as the subject. You need these "thats."
That won't let you down. If fact, that will outlive the other.
Hey, I wrote that!
That he didn't try was the problem.
A restrictive clause limits or specifies the identity of the subject in some fashion. You need the "thats" that introduce one of these clauses.
The apple that didn't have mold fell to the ground. (Not that apple but that apple.)
That car that sped across the grass, didn't you see it? (Not the car on the street, the one on the grass.)
Those are the ones that can stay. So which ones go? The "thats" that are meant to compliment. The majority of them will be empty in purpose.
that he was an untrustworthy man.
It was apparent
that I was late.
that this makes sense.
When was it
that you were going to come over?
Sometimes, however, a complimentizer is needed for cadence or respite and you just can't let it go. If you find one that could go but you're reluctant to delete it for some reason, say your sentence out loud to see if you're using it as a sort of pause. If so, it should probably stay as a stylistic choice. Just make sure the sentence really needs it!
The word "there," as you know, refers to a place (concrete or abstract). Most "theres" are okay and needed but oftentimes a sentence with "there" could be strengthened/tightened. Particularly, I see a lot of writers use the word "there" to reemphasize location when it's not needed.
There was nothing there. Change to: Nothing was there.
there on the bed and cried.
there on the locker, afraid to go to class.
He came out
of there and faced me. (Either delete or use a concrete noun in a case like this.)
While you're examining your "theres" make sure you're using them in concrete ways. Should it be "there"? or should you be giving "there" a name? Do you even need to reference location again?
An example of tightening and revision using "there:"
My house was like a circus, loud and animated. Then there was Grandma's house, such a quiet, peaceful place. I loved visiting there.
My house was like a circus, loud and animated while Grandma's house was a quiet, peaceful place. I loved visiting.
My house was like a circus, loud and animated, but Grandma's house was quiet and peaceful. I loved it.
ETC. There are many ways to rewrite it; the point is that I didn't need either "there" from the original sentence. Though, the first could stay if you wanted the emphasis and conversational tone. I'd definitely launch the second. Again, it comes down to examining what you want/need versus what came out when the words were flowing.
So, for both That and There, I recommend hitting Crtl F, doing a search for each, and examining all your uses. If you find an empty "that," delete! If you find a "there" that (extra points if you can tell me what "that" I just used) makes location redundant, delete!
As before, please leave your examples, smarts, and thoughts in the comments (and correct me if I'm wrong on anything)!