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June 24, 2014

Eliminate Redundancies


This is going to be a short post serving as a reminder to eliminate redundancies. Why should you want to eliminate redundancies in your writing? Well because they are redundant!



Here is a short list I always make sure to cut from my writing: 

·         He/she thought to him/herself.

If a character is thinking something within the privacy of their mind then no one else can hear it. A thought is a sole experience that only becomes public when spoken aloud, so when a character thinks something you don’t have to add “to him/herself” because that is already made clear.

·         Stand/stood (up)
·         Sit/sat (down)
·         Turned (back, around)

When you make these actions of standing, sitting or turning, it is obvious which direction you are moving and what you are doing. Including "up", "down", "back", "around" is not necessary. 

Image by Chrys Fey.


·         Low/soft whisper

A whisper is already low/soft. You don’t have to add an adjective to make it clear that someone is whispering. “He/she whispered” makes it clear enough.

·          No “exclaimed” with an exclamation mark.

If there is an exclamation mark, readers already know what is being said by the character is being exclaimed or shouted. Leave out “he/she exclaimed” and just end the sentence with an exclamation mark.


There are more redundancies you should eliminate, but these are the most common, as well as the most unnecessary.


SHARE: Help me add to this list of redundancies in the comments.


QUESTION: What redundancies in writing bug you as a reader?


41 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In line with exclaimed is saying asked when the sentence ends in a question mark.

Julie Flanders said...

I always have to stop myself with the "thought to himself" issue. I don't know why but I seem to always do that and then have to go back and delete. Finally starting to break myself of the habit LOL.
Good list!

Sarah Foster said...

Great tips! I'll have to add them to my list of things to Ctrl+F in my manuscript :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks for the reminder, Chrys.....

Chrys Fey said...

Exactly! I was thinking of adding that one, but I wanted to keep this post short, so thank you for mentioning it here, as the first comment. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I have the habit of writing "sat down" or "stood up". I use those words paired together in my speech all the time, so it's hard to strike it out of my writing.

Chrys Fey said...

Great! I hope it helps. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Michael. :)

Ashantay said...

Guilty! She exclaimed as she stood up and turned back around to read the list again. What a great list, she whispered softly to herself. I use those redundancies all the time. I'll have to stop that, she thought. Seriously, thanks for the list, and I really am guilty. (grin)

Michelle Wallace said...

Thanks for the reminder.
I know I'm guilty of using 'stood up'... and there are others as well (which I just can't seem to remember at the moment...)
Writer In Transit

Chrys Fey said...

No worries, Ashantay, I have been guilty of all of these, too!

Chrys Fey said...

"Stood up" is the one I fall victim to the most.

Unknown said...

I am so guilty! You should see some of my first drafts. Sheesh! Thank God for revisions, otherwise the grammar and redundancy police would haul me away. Another one is "nodded his/her head." I think we can just say they nodded?

J.H. Moncrieff said...

My pet peeve is when an author says the same thing over and over. One of my favourite Stephen King books is "Bag of Bones," and he's in love with a sentence in that novel--"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," from "Rebecca." He must repeat that phrase at least twenty times in his book, and I have no idea why. It certainly wasn't moving the story forward. Or when authors explain the colour of a heroine's eyes again and again, or their characters make the same gesture on every page. Stuff like drives me crazy!

Pat Hatt said...

There are sure some I may be guilty of using a time or two haha asked is one that seems kinda redundant, but then some people don't get the question mark is there and need it spelled out for them

Lisa Thomson said...

Oh, Chrys there are so many extra words that I go back and edit out of my work. They're pretty useless. I like your examples though. Dialogue takes some practice to write and those are great pointers.

Slamdunk said...

Excellent tips Chrys and certainly things I need to hear. The redundancy that comes to mind is overly using "he or she said." Obviously, the reader can figure out via the conversation that something is being said.

Chrys Fey said...

"Nodded his/her head" is a good one. And now I have to add that to my list to check during my revisions. lol

Chrys Fey said...

Those things drive me crazy, too. Sometimes my characters can smile/smirk too much so I'm working on changing that, but I agree that repetition is a pet peeve of mine, too.

Chrys Fey said...

I think most authors are guilty of doing these every now and then during the first draft. And if they say they don't, they are lying! HAHAHA

Chrys Fey said...

I have a long list of words I check my manuscripts for, too. These are just a handful from the list. And it keeps growing! lol

Chrys Fey said...

You're right! I had the he/she said problem when I first started writing. A writer only has to mention who is talking in the beginning of a conversation. After that, it's easy to follow the dialogue back and forth between two characters.

Loni Townsend said...

"Rose up" is one of the redundancies that comes to mind, because rising is only one direction. With the stand and sit, you can sit up and stand down, or back in most cases, so seeing "up" with stand or "down" with sit doesn't bother me.

Crystal Collier said...

I attended a writers workshop once on overwriting, and these were some of the issues addressed. The minimalist in me rose up and consumed the concept. They also talked about dialog tags and how wasted they can be. All good stuff to keep in mind.

Chrys Fey said...

That's a good point! And you're right that you can sit up or stand down. In those cases, it would be important for a writer to specify that.

Chrys Fey said...

Absolutely! I remind myself of both all the time. :)

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Oh wow I hadn't even thought of these when I've read them before. I read examples of these all the time and had never considered them redundancies. Lesson learned :-)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad to help. :)

Carrie-Anne said...

I've found lots of redundancies to edit out, like the ones you mentioned. It's not that I was doing it on purpose or out of not knowing how to write; I just didn't realize they were redundancies at the time, since I was so used to hearing people talking like that, or seeing it in older books.

Another sort of redundancy is overstating established information, either through dialogue or in a narrative passage. If the reader already is familiar with this information, why repeat it as though the characters and the reader are idiots who need reminding?

Jocelyn Rish said...

It goes along with the sit/stand thing, but I always type 'crouch down' in my drafts and then have to remove the 'down' during revisions. A bad habit I can't break. :-)

Yanting Gueh said...

'Very unique' is one I can't stand. Something is 'unique.' It can't be 'very unique.' I'd learned this from The West Wing, when the president corrected an amateur speechwriter, and it's stuck with me since. I use redundancies like 'very,' 'just' and 'quite' when I leave blog comments, but I'm a lot more disciplined and crisp in my writing. (I hope!)

cleemckenzie said...

It's easy to include these these redundancies, but thank heaven for editing editing. I'm particularly partial to writing "just shortly before." My justs, just love to pop up all over the place, especially where they're not needed.

Chrys Fey said...

I know exactly what you mean. I had no idea they were redundancies either before I found out they were. I think every writer has to learn this. And the fact that we talk like this makes it hard not to do the same thing in our writing.

You're absolutely right! Overstating information is another form of redundancy that should be cut out as well.

Chrys Fey said...

That's a good on, Jocelyn! It is a hard habit to break.

Chrys Fey said...

Good point! Now I wonder if I ever wrote "very unique". HAHA

Chrys Fey said...

I have the same problem with "just"! It's amazing when I use the Microsoft Search tool and find just how many times I use "just". I;m cringing (just) thinking about it. :P

cleemckenzie said...

It is a bit shattering to the writer ego. But if we catch those buggers, we can pat ourselves on our backs.

Chrys Fey said...

We sure can! Or if we can't, our betas can. ;)

Unknown said...

One which comes to mind is "added bonus." We already know the word "bonus" means something extra so we don't need the word "added!"

I think we all make the mistake of using redundant phrases. But I guess this is one of the reasons why we must find great editors!

Fantastic post, Chrys. When I'm editing my novel next month, I will be sure to be on the prowl for redundancies now!

Chrys Fey said...

I never though of "added bonus" before, but you make a great point!

We do. And it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's something we all have to eventually learn.

Awesome! :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I can still hear my mother saying, "Sit up straight! You want posture like your cousin Natalie!" LOL. Great post. These are points we all need to heed.