The Other Side of the Pen: November 28th, 2016


As a writer, as a freelance editor, as a reviewer… Well, sometimes Mia gets mouthy, and the fourth week of the month is when she’s gonna let you know just what she thinks!

Repetition & Redundancy

When I was in high school, my mother (who was my teacher because I was home-educated through middle and high school) told me about writing a paper: your introduction is to tell your reader what you’re going to tell them; the body of the paper tells them; and then the conclusion tells you what you just told them.

This is good advice for paper-writing, but less for novel writing when you do all this in one paragraph.

I’ve edited some things that would easily be sent off to the Redundancy Department of Redundancy. They will tell you the same thing about three four times in one paragraph; sometimes with the same words and sometimes in different ways. They always read to me something like this.

“I’m going to tell you this thing, because it’s really important. This important thing that I’m about to tell you is really important. It’s a thing, and it’s important. Do you remember that I am going to tell you this important thing?”

Readers usually have enough of a memory to recall that you told us Character A’s hair is black, you don’t need to tell us three times in three paragraphs. We know their last name, so you don’t have to use both first and last name every time you refer to them.

Try not to start every paragraph with the same word, especially pronouns.

Yes, sometimes you need to repeat things; you have to remind readers about important information. But watch out how often you do it in short spans of times. Are there any other ways to deliver information? Do you really NEED all of those words and descriptions? Do you use the same word that many times? Try to do a “find” function on a word or phrase, and you might be surprised how often you use it. (“Smirk” is apparently my curse.)

So…there it is. Watch out for repetition, redundancy, and reiteration. 😉

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