Written Sin #7 – Redundancy is utterly Redundant…let the dead horse lie… See? ;)

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* 🙂 🙂 🙂

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34 Responses to Written Sin #7 – Redundancy is utterly Redundant…let the dead horse lie… See? ;)

  1. Todd D says:

    True words of wisdom. 🙂

  2. So true Tammy! I know that I have this problem too…who doesn’t? But you’re so right! I don’t write a single word until I’ve read what I wrote the night before…not only does this help me get back into the ms but it also prevents me from rewriting my thoughts going forward.

    That’s what makes you such a good critter…good eye and all that!
    Great post!

    • CDNWMN says:

      Thanks Ang! So many things in life I’ve wanted to be good at…never thought critter was one of them. lol! Lets see if ManBeast leaves that one alone! ;P

  3. When I finished my latest WiP, before I started any major editing, I read the thing “cover-to-cover”. It was amazing (the experience, not the writing LOL). I found so many areas where I was repetitive and words and phrases that I used over and over. I made a list of all of them and after I changed all the major issues, I went back and did a search for each word/phrase and reworked those sentences so I didn’t have “clenched” 86 times in my manuscript anymore. LOL

    And I’m a firm believer in reading before you write. It helps me get grounded in the story again before I dive into the new words.

    • CDNWMN says:

      Excellent point about the grounding. And aren’t our ‘crutch’ words and phrases funny? Odd how we never really notice it until it’s in bulk! lol!

  4. shaydenfl says:

    Great post, Tammy. Full of wisdom and great tips. YOU…just earned yourself a subscriber 😉

  5. As usual, your post is instructive and hilarious. Using too many useless words is something I’ve become more conscious of, but I’d never thought of the joke killing. Maybe this means a read-through number five 😐

    • CDNWMN says:

      Imagine that hmm, writers who ramble. 😉 lol! We all do it, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint our own gems, yet so easy to point out someone else’s.

  6. Great tips! This is why I have beta readers. LOL. I always reread the last few pages before I start up again the next day. Good idea 🙂


  7. diannewaye says:

    Have I told you already I love your blog? Why yes, I have.
    It’s not about the word count, it’s about the quality of what’s left on the page.

  8. Chrissey Harrison says:

    I’m right with you on this one!
    Something I tend to get on my soap box about is people who get disheartened if they can’t write a perfect first draft first time. I think it was actually in one of Kelley Armstrong’s tips on her website where I first read it, but there have been other places – drafting and editing use different skills and different parts of the brain. I mention it because the redundancy/duplication issue is a common symptom of the way your brain works when it’s drafting and therefore just something you have to be aware of when you edit, which is part two of a complete process. Soapbox rant over 😛

  9. Anne Michaud says:

    I kinda want you to be my Omega3, now, Tams. Such words of wisdom!! Good job, Lady:)

  10. Natalie says:

    The thing I’ve found in some of my older novel attempts is not only redundancy but inaccurate redundancy! Such as:

    Jamie took the book with his left hand, jumping back from a papercut. He wrapped a towel around his right hand…

    Ok, so none were as blatently obvious as that lol but I read through and think “how the hell did I miss that before?”.

  11. Gareth says:

    I’ve seen these errors time and again in published books. Thanks for bringing some of these reader banes to the fore and hopefully give us a break in the near future.

  12. Pj Schnyder says:

    Love this set of examples and will confess, until I started re-reading the section I’d written the day before, I was guilty of every single one of them. It still happens occasionally but not nearly as often. 😀

  13. T. James says:

    Awww Tammy, we all love your ability to just say-it-like-it-is (or whenever we disagree how-you-see-it 😉 ). Seriously, just a great set of really solid points. I can be a waffler, and not the potato kind.

    Keep keeping us on track, many of us need and value your honesty.

  14. John Wiswell says:

    In Example 1, I’d cut the entire sentence. Just have him driving. I’ll figure out how he got in there. Just as obnoxious as extraneous words are the rote descriptions of mundane actions.

    • CDNWMN says:

      I see your point and raise you this; You assume driving means a car, I assume it’s a motorcycle, plus he isn’t the one driving in this case, he’s a passenger.
      Of couse one line like this simply isn’t enough to show you the context of how the sentence relates to the paragraph from which I borrowed it from. But that’s just how I roll. 😉

  15. Lisa Forget says:

    As always, excellent points made with a great big dose of humour!
    You da bomb Tammy, you da bomb! 🙂

  16. Wonderful post, Tammy!

    I’m so stoked that I finished my new novel this week. Now I must go back and reread the new novel I finished this week. 😉

  17. Heidi/Akeyla says:

    Great post, in my re-read of my complete WiP, I discovered that I not only repeated some words here and there, but whole scenes. Which actually made me laugh at the time but inside I was killing my inner writer a little bit. Good post – oh wait I already said that!

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