Redundancy? Redundant?

Redundancy.  Remember the movie Groundhog Day?  Have you ever had a passage in a manuscript where something happens two or three times with just minor differences?  How do you keep it from sounding, well, redundant?

10 Comments on “Redundancy? Redundant?

  1. In picture books, it’s fairly easy to spot on a word-by-word level. For example, today I noticed a manuscript in which I used the word “strange” in back to back sentences, and the dialogue tag “he calls” twice within about 50 words of each other. Variation of word choice is crucial.

    In my novel, I actually took a tip from a writer-friend and searched out conversational filler words such as “so” “just” and “even” using the find/replace feature. In almost every instance, I eliminated the repeat words – and I was horrified at how many times I used them!

    Lastly, I always revert to my high-school English teacher who pointed out the absolute necessity of varying your opening words and phrases in sentences. If all of them begin with “I” (first person) or your character’s name (third person), for instance, you might not be incorporating enough of the setting.

    Now…where should I send the invoice for my wonderful advice? Lol. Have a great one, Rick!

    • Thanks, Miranda, for all the wonderful advice. I’ll try to find an address for the invoice.

      I have a short story where the same actions have to take place two or three times, but with minor changes. It’s starting to sound like, well, the movie Groundhog Day. I’m down to the last paragraph trying to make it sound fresh, again.

      Oh, that address is: Rick Star

      Oh, my, would you look at the time. Gotta go.

      Thanks again

  2. I tend to read passages to myself and highlight words that I’ve used much too much. A lot of times if you read something aloud as well, you’ll hear where you’re using the same word or phrase over and over again.

    • Yeah, this is like a whole scene. The MC has to do the same thing over and over, like climb the same ladder with different items each time. Because of what it is, it has to be repeated.


  3. I’ve found that such situations can be treated well by acknowledging the repetitiveness of it all:
    “And up he went again, as he had a thousand times before.”
    “He climbed on automatic by now.”
    “Climbing ladders was becoming is life.”

  4. I love Miranda’s reply. I tend to go after each line with brutal strike-out speed then read it aloud to make sure it’s as crisp as it can be.

  5. Rick, you’ve gotten some great advice here already. I’ll just add that you can’t be afraid to take a red pen to your words. If you find your writing redundant (and it doesn’t need to be), you will lose your reader. Figure out what needs to be there and what doesn’t. Then tighten up your wording to keep as much redundancy out of your paragraph as possible.

    • Thanks, Kelly. In the piece I’m working on, the MC has to repeat the same task two or three times. Each time is slightly different, and has to be shown, but I don’t want to lose my reader.

      For me, taking the red pen to my work is the fun part. I think I like the revision process more than getting the first draft down. Sometimes it is amazing how many words are not needed, or were there just for “show.”

      Thanks again.

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