Redundancy will kill your story. It will also make it dead.

Redundancy. The bane of the amateur writer. While there are several stages an author must go through to really mature, the most dangerous and prolonged one is redundancy, or saying the same thing twice. Why is it so dangerous and why is it so hard to get rid of? Well, before I go further I think it’s *drum roll* BAD EXAMPLE TIME! I do so love writing purposely trashy pieces. They’re way easier than actually good ones. Anyways, I now present to you an example of typical amateurish, redundant writing:


The explosion rocked the air. There was a flash of heat, hot and dry, that scorched and burned Cam’s lungs. She bent over, hunched into a ball, and coughed until she thought she would pass out. She hacked so much that she was dizzy.


Before she had time to recover her wits, another explosion erupted, bursting forth from the earth in a towering pillar of dirt, ground turned to fountain. Now, not only was the heat crinkling her lungs into withered sacks, drying them out, but she was inhaling a fine powder.


These things always happen in threes. Another explosion burst forth, exploding up and up and up. It was too much for Cam. Her body couldn’t take it. With a final, decisive cough, she fell to the ground. Hitting the earth, she could feel blackness wash over her.

Wow, that was cliché. However, I’m not attacking clichés right now, I’m attacking redundancy. So now that I have the example to refer back to, let’s explore why redundancy is so prevalent and hard to cure. The biggest reason is that at first glance, this kind of amateur writing sounds good. After all, I’ve got great description. And I have a ton of it, too. More description = better story, right? No.

However, when you show this kind of writing to your friends (or worse, your Mom), they look at all those adjectives and the vivid images and they just think it’s the most amazing thing since Chuck Norris! Well, sure, compared to the crappy, vague, half-thought out writing you did when you were twelve, sure, it’s better. But not great. Now, let’s rewrite the above example to make it an epic masterpiece. Or at least better.

The explosion rocked the air. There was a flash of heat that scorched Cam’s lungs. She hunched into a ball and hacked until she was dizzy.


Before she had time to recover her wits, another explosion erupted in a towering pillar of dirt, ground turned to fountain. Now, not only was the heat crinkling her lungs into withered sacks, but she was inhaling a fine powder.


These things always happen in threes. Another explosion burst forth, exploding up and up and up. It was too much for Cam. With a final, decisive cough, she fell to the ground.

Ta-da! It’s as if my example went on the Biggest Loser and lost a hundred pounds of dead weight. The only time something is restated twice is the example of the pillar of dirt and ground into fountain. I kept that because, sometimes, restating things can add to the effect. But only sometimes. Otherwise, your just bogging your story down until it can barely roll of the couch for chips. So, amateur writers, my challenge to you is to go through your story and heavily consider ever description and phrase. Is it adding to the story, or is it bogging it down? Get out there and kill redundancy!

0 comments:

Post a Comment