That That Had Had

I have a nasty habit of using ‘had had’ and ‘that that’ when I’m writing. It’s not really wrong really (at least I can’t find anything that says it is on ye old Google university) but it can be problematic. It disrupts the flow and throws people out of the story.

And yet, I still find myself doing it. It even pops up on work emails.
It’s getting to the point of where I grit my teeth every time I see I’ve done it. I know I shouldn’t worry. I tell myself that I’ll catch them during edits and fix them them. But it still bugs me.

So, friends, how do you train yourself to stop doing these little faux paus like had had and that that?

And on a totally unrelated note, is the new WordPress stats page confusing the heck out of everyone else too?

But enough of that! On to the fun stuff!

It’s WIPpet Wednesday yet again – and sadly, I don’t have anything new from book 1 of the Descendants. I do have a snippet from book 2 to entertain you all! You may kill me over it since it takes place so far in the future, but still, at least it’s something, right?

So here are 16 paragraphs from book 2. Unfortunately, no matter how I wrangle the date around, the math just doesn’t work out, so we’ll just say it’s 15 paragraphs for the year and an extra one just because.

He walked fast, fast enough that Vivian had to jog to keep up with him. She caught glimpses of the aftermath of the battle as he led her through the castle. Knights escorted Meraunt’s soldiers though the corridors to the dungeons below. The dead were carried away, while medics tended to the wounded, and servants struggled to clean up the blood left behind.

Suddenly he made an abrupt right turn, dragging her after him hard enough that she felt her shoulder pop from the force.

“That hurt!” She smacked his hand with her free one, but it didn’t deter him from his course. Instead his lips remained firmly pressed into a line as he opened a door and jerked her inside, slamming the door behind them.

Once they were alone, he finally released her. However, he did not leave her alone for long. He advanced on her, his eyebrows drawn together, his lips still set in a frown, and his eyes hard and crackling with barely contained fury.

Vivian had seen him angry before, but never had it been directed at her. Suddenly reminded of another man’s wrath from a different time, and the outcome of that horrible event, she backed up. However, a table bumped against her calves, preventing her from going any farther, and a quick glance around the room revealed that there wasn’t any other escape.

His eyes softened at little at her fear, and he made soft reassuring shushing noises as if she were a frightened horse or a baby. He briefly knelt in front of her, lifting her skirt a little and running his hands quickly up one leg and then the other. “Did it hurt because of me, or because of him? Of what he did?”

Vivian lifted her chin defiantly. “What do you think?”

He didn’t yell or snap back. Instead she watched as some of the tension left his shoulders. He continued to poke and prod at her, lingering here and there where her gown had been torn, or if there was a spot of blood, or if she yelped. Then he grabbed her chin between his thumb and index finger. First he tilted it this way, and then that, and then he stared intently into her eyes for several moments.

Finally satisfied, he grabbed the back of her neck and did something that Vivian hadn’t expected.

He kissed her.

Oh, they had kissed before. Once at the abbey, and then a few times since she had healed him. More than a few had been initiated by herself – to keep up appearances she said.

She had noticed, however, as time had passed, that those quick little pecks were begging to mean something. At first she had told herself that it was all his fault. That he was the one changing things. That it was because he felt indebted to her. That he was taking this little charade too far.

And this kiss only confirmed those suspicions.

It was intense and demanding and hungry and all those other horrible cliches that were in the romance books that Bree kept hidden under her bed at home. And what was even worse, was that she felt herself responding to it and to him. She was no stranger to sex and desire – even though she had told herself that she would never fall in love, she had dated and slept around a little. But this… this was different. It made her nerves tingle, and her heart hammer in her chest. It left her breathless in a way that she didn’t think was possible. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had her pulled against him so tightly, and the table that was currently digging into her legs, she was pretty sure she might have collapsed in a heap.

When she wasn’t sure she could take anymore, he broke away. He leaned his forehead against hers. “Don’t ever do that again.”

“Do what?” After all, he had been the one that started it by planting his lips on her like that.

To read more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here.

13 thoughts on “That That Had Had

  1. Amy says:

    Yeah, I’m with her…he started it!

    I giggled about the romance novels under the bed. I have a character who does that. It may or may not be based on something I used to do. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ReGi McClain says:

    Me oh my! It got a little warm there, didn’t it? I love that she’s almost being analytical about it, in spite of the moment. How she’s thinking along the lines of, “this is like my romance books” and “wasn’t this a play-act just a little bit ago?” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kathils says:

    Wow. I wasn’t sure if I should be frightened, angry, or swamped with desire — so I went with all three! Breathless.

    My only nit… that’s a big long section without once ever using his name. And yes, there’s only the two of them in this scene, but possibly to break it up a bit…

    Liked by 1 person

    • ceeleeolson says:

      Yeah. That was a deliberate action on my part, because, spoilers. It was either don’t share his name, or bleep it out like I’ve done before, and not sharing it seemed to work. Obviously that will get fixed in the rewrites 😀


  4. Pax Asteriae says:

    Awwww, what a place to finish! *pout* I was so into that snippet and then suddenly… no more… 😦

    As to the “that that”s and “had had”s (and inserting in “that”s I didn’t need), the only way I found to stop myself doing them was to catch myself doing it, then very slowly deliberately deleting them until I made myself get the point. …Which admittedly only works some of the time, since I’ve already had to delete an extra “that” from this post. :/ I’m a slow learner…

    Liked by 1 person

    • ceeleeolson says:

      You can blame my muse for that. I got up to that point and she was like, okay, I’m done now, and went silent.

      My other issue is putting ‘s where I don’t need them. Or skipping letters if I’m working on a really exciting scene. Thankfully spell check and grammar check catch those.


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