Lately I’ve been writing more than ever, thank you Nano, and I’ve also been critiquing more of other people’s work than ever. The request for me to beta seems to be growing rapidly. Not unsurprising considering we all know I’m not one to withhold an opinion. As always, I’m finding I learn as much by reading as I do by writing. And what fun is learning if you can’t share some of it right? So here you are.
One recurring theme I see is redundancy. Usually, it’s something dead obvious, but because it’s seemingly so minimal, it often gets overlooked.
Example #1 – Over stating the obvious
Joey walked around the parked automobile, opened the passenger car door, and slid inside.
Did you spot it? It’s small, minimal, simple, and utterly annoying. At least to me. The word ‘car’ is the culprit in the sentence. You already told me it was an automobile, I get it, it’s a car. Go figure. Delete. And yes it seems small and unobtrusive, but the problem is it seems to proliferate inside a document like mold spores. What you end up with are tons of unnecessary words that slow the pace, add clutter, and eventually grate on your reader’s nerves.
Example #2 – Killing your own joke
My little sister was a cereal junkie. I fully expected I’d one day find her locked in her room with a syringe, a tourniquet, and a box of Froot Loops. We really needed to get her one of those twelve-step programs…
Spot it? That last sentence was a total kill joy. You had me at Froot Loops. So many times I’ll be reading through something and find a particularly funny or poignant line that makes me giddy from sheer impact, only instead of stopping there, the writer continues to beat it to death following it up with lesser lines. They suck the vibrancy out of little gems.
Example #3 – Shut up already!
I’ll save you tortures I’m sure you’ve all experienced enough in your lifetime. Short version; Using more than two sentences to tell me how your protag didn’t like his hamburger is overkill (honestly more than two words is enough), using a whole paragraph should come with a massive fine, and two paragraphs should come with immediate suspension and career opportunity counseling.
This list could go on to the point where it’s, er, redundant, yes? We’ve all seen it, and most of us have done it *raises hand*, and this is the true gift of having beta readers. We are all going to make mistakes and overlook the simple stuff so our best offense is a good defense, awareness.
Tammy’s Tip of the Week
Read before you write. For the love of God when you put your ms down for the night, and pick it up again the next day, re-read your last page first. DO NOT write down a single new word until you’ve done this. Many times people think they are starting where they left off, but the reality is they just end up re-writing the same parts over again. It makes a critter/beta/alpha/omega3 wanna pull their teeth out with rusty pliers. *thanking you in advance*
Thoughts? Opinions? Perhaps just like to flip me off? Feel free. *secretly hopes cute smiley’s prevents retribution*