I’ve noticed an excessive amount of “thats” in the stories I’ve read. Most of the time, “that” doesn’t need to be there.
Take this sentence:
She felt that she was in danger
Reads smoother as:
She felt she was in danger.
Think of reading a novel as driving on a winding road. There are many twists and turns, ups and downs. The novel’s language, voice–how the author tells the story–determines whether or not you’ll enjoy this drive. For me, coming across a “that” like the one in the example above is like hitting a teeth-shaking pothole.
Sometimes, “that” is needed. Most of the time, it’s not. If you remove it from the sentence and the meaning doesn’t change, it wasn’t meant to be there.
This could also be one of those things that bothers me as an editor but most readers wouldn’t care about it. What do you think?