Editing Tip #2: Cut the Redundancies using 1 simple tool

Redundancies are not very useful, make your writing bad and hurt your sentences. It’s easy for redundancies to creep or sneak or wheedle their way into your writing and your stories.

As you can probably tell, I went overboard with redundancies in the above paragraph. Most of the words didn’t contribute any meaning or value. Here’s the same paragraph without redundancies:

Redundancies make your writing bad. It’s easy for them to sneak into your writing.

Fewer words. Clearer meaning. Direct, powerful language. Your prose will be transformed when you cut out redundancies.

Types of Redundancies

Redundancies fall into two categories:

1. Redundant Phrases: 

These are unnecessary phrases which are added to reinforce meaning. For instance, in this sentence:

It’s easy for redundancies to creep or sneak or wheedle their way into your writing

“sneak” and “wheedle” aim to reinforce the sense of intrusion. However, these phrases are redundant because “sneak” and “wheedle” are synonyms for “creep”. Thus, they add no extra value to the sentence.

2. Redundant Modifiers: 

These attach to other words like parasitic blood-suckers, such as ‘absolutely essential’ or ‘armed gunman.’ I refer to Redundant Modifiers as parasites because they’ve wormed their way into the public consciousness. Next time you watch TV keep a count of how many times a product is called ‘absolutely essential’, even though ‘absolutely essential’ is the same as ‘essential.‘ By it’s very definition, you can’t make something that’s ‘essential’ more essential.

Why we use Redundancies:

Redundancies are like clichés. We hear them so often they ingrain themselves into the fabric of language like termites burrowing into an improperly treated 4 by 2. I’ll level with you: I hate redundancies. They’re unneccessary, clog up your writing and ultimately show a lack of creativity.

Chances are your first draft is littered with redundancies. Fear not: it’s easy to eliminate redundancies – provided you know what to look for.

Eliminating Redundancies:

Redundant Modifiers are easier to eliminate than Redundant Phrases, which typically require close editing to identify and destroy. This is because Redundant Modifiers tend to be commonly used, which means that a list of common redundancies will help you find them. I would write a list for you, but why bother when you can just use this list.

To tighten up your writing, pick one of redundancies on the list and use Word’s find feature. This will search through your story for instances of this redundancy. Once you’re done deleting one type of redundancy, pick the next one of the list and repeat the process. It’s a simple fix that requires little brainpower, but will do a lot to take your story to the next level. Happy editing!

What’s your opinion on redundancies? Do you tend to overuse them or are they not a problem for you? Is it ever okay to use a redundancy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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