THE HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, AWFUL ‘R’ WORD

August 15, 2019 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , with 3 and 1
Home > Columns > The Write Life by Rebecca Forster > THE HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, AWFUL ‘R’ WORD

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.

Author Bio
Author Bio
She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
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She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • I love this, Rebecca. I’m in editing mode and marking all sorts of “R” words.

    • LOL, don’t you just hate it. When I write it seems so lyrical – ’till I read it back. Yike! Good luck with yours. I say we throw ’em into a pile and people who need them can pick them up.

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