I’ve been thinking a lot about redundancy in the last week because I am editing a book that has been a long time in coming. I want the fans that have been waiting for this book to be pleased, as much as I want new readers to be impressed. I was able to recapture the series character voices, the plot was solid, but something was amiss with the writing.
While I was redlining the phrase ‘she turned her head’ for the twenty-fifth time, I realized that much of my description was redundant. I’ve suffered through this before, but this time instead of instead of soldering on I set aside my work and went for the dictionary. The definition of the word redundant was richer and more nuanced than I realized and each definition could be applied to my work.
Redundancy, as I understand it, is characterized as a similarity or repetitiveness. This made sense in terms of the edit I made to delete a recurring phrase. The dictionary further defined the word as describing something exceeding the normal, superfluous, and containing excess. Finally, redundant may be used to describe the profuse or lavish. These definitions were inspiring when applied to the craft of writing. In fact, I realized my WIP suffered greatly from redundancy.
Always chasing a higher word count, I was excessive in my use of conjunctions, verbs and adverbs. My style was buried under unnecessary words and phrases. Each passage became overly formal, lacking grace and fluidity. I had a tendency to say the same things in different ways as if my reader wouldn’t get the point the first time. My love of alliterations, similies, idioms and hyperbole were profuse and lavish to the point of distraction.
The bottom line is this: by attempting to create a memorable work I had, instead, created a book that would be unnecessarily difficult to read. The red pen had already been put to good use, but now I am making the next pass with all the definitions of redundancy top of mind. Already my writing is more precise, the characters are freed from the weight of unnecessary dialogue, and the descriptions of time and place are clearer.
It’s true that you learn something new everyday, and that’s one redundancy I can live with.
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