February 15, 2011

Tuesday Edit Crunch: A Repeat on Repetition

A little bit of a cheat today, but I was thinking about this topic and since I've gained a bazillion new followers (I know it's not that much, but it may as well be! Thank you, followers!), I thought it was worth re-posting. Enjoy!

February 8, 2010

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...
Today's Crunch is all about repetition. Repitan, clase, por favor... REPETICION. We will address three forms.

Simple redundancies. They can sneak up on us, as we write, slip right in, hard to detect, nigh invisible. Difficult to spot.
Not only can redundancies add to word count, they scream, "Hey! This is just a story being told with a lot of words!"
Let's start with the stealthier ones, shall we?

climbed up the stairs
crept slowly
dropped down
exact same
fell down
nodded his head
rose up
sat down
shrugged her shoulders
stood up
tip-toed quietly

Seemingly innocent? Hmmm. Let's look again.

He climbed the stairs. Obviously going up. Doesn't need to be said.
She crept. Is there a fast way to do it?
Dropped. Gravity plays a big part in this one.
Same. If it's not exactly the same, it is similar.
Fell. Again, see Mr. Newton.
Nodded. Most of us use our heads.
Rose. To rise, the opposite of fall.
Sat. She sat. This one is debatable, I know. If you use it when your character is standing, though, it's obvious. If she is already sitting, she can sit up. She sat up.
Shrugged. We know the move, one shoulder, two shoulders, we can see it.
Stood. Again, up is implied.
Tip-toed. Tippy tippy-toed. Even when Fred Flintstone was bowling, this was quiet.

Get the point? Because this was huge to me. HUGE. I'm repeating myself.

Pronoun repetition is the second part of redundancy I would like to crunch. I am a visual writer. I see what is happening and my fingers fly to keep up. When I (or my readers) go back and read my story, I (or they) often find this:

He scanned again and sluggishly moved forward, stepping over bodies and weapons and waste.  He gathered arrows as he went, keeping his eyes up and his nostrils closed.  He was not queasy.  He was not a coward. 
He hated this.
He suppressed the urge to examine, to listen for breathing.  He knew by now there would be time to help those that would make it, and it would be a waste of time to help those that would not.
He made his way towards a narrow neck out of the clearing.  He could hear the battle continuing there, and instinctively crouched lower to the ground, his muscles straining, his back already stiff.  He moved to the brush on the right.  To enter in the open would be to announce his late arrival.


Yikes! All but one of those sentences began with He. Change it up!

The third type of redundancy is pretty cut and dry. If you've used the same adjective, verb, phrase, or the hated adverb in the same paragraph, or even within 4 or more paragraphs, find yourself another word. Unless there is a point for the repetition (and I know there can be), avoid it. It's like, when someone, like, uses the same phrase like, over and over again. It can be like, so annoying. Or a bit distracting anyway, as in,"Oh, wait, didn't I just read that same word?" Reader stops reading, scans back, "Oh, yep, mendacious. Hm, the author must like that word. Now, where was I?"
And how do we feel about pulling our readers out of the story?
WE DON'T LIKE IT, KRISTA.
That's right. Keep your reader in the story.

Do you have any redundancy stories you'd like to share?

Hope you enjoyed Tuesday Edit Crunch! Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy.


8 comments:

Kimberly said...

Obviously, this post was put up for my benefit (I'm the centre of the world like that). I just started into rewrites today and wow did I ever need to read this.

You're fabulous, dahling and your timing? Impeccable.

Angela Ackerman said...

I am terrible about repeats. Not only the small stuff, but also symbols commig up too frequently, different characters struggling with and overcoming the same obstacles...and *snip*all of them have to go!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Krista said...

Kym, I did post this especially for you, ha ha! Because nobody else does this EVER. And congrats on finishing your ms! THAT is fabulous.

Angela, UGH, the symbols! Every little trinket and wonder of nature simply MUST have a deeper meaning, right? RIGHT? :)

Shari said...

Repeated words? Yep, do it all the time. Ugh.

Sara B. Larson said...

I'm guilty of the first example the most. I tend to catch myself on the other two. Great post!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Such a good post! Must hammer these into my brain.

Amy

Julia King said...

I have had to work hard at not repeating. Someone pointed it out to me once. I would say things over and over again, but just in a different way. Why waist the time and word count with repeating? Anyway, thanks for pointing out the slight repeatition like crept slowly. Need to be careful on those ones too.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Excellent points - thanks!

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