Finally getting back on track with life. It's been overwhelming lately, but things are slowing down now to a crawl - which I prefer. I decided maybe it's time to get back to discussing some creative writing skills and maybe some marketing hints on this blog. It's never to late to touch on the basics.
Today I thought one issue that comes up a lot in critiques, at least with my critique partner and I anyway, is redundancy. And not just in descriptions, but also in using the same word(s) a lot within the same scene/chapter.
You don't even realize that you're doing it, which is where having a critique partner comes in handy. I thank God everyday for Robin. I'm also blessed with Heather and Michael too. Without them my books would not sound, or read, as crisp as they do. It's absolutely worth seeking out a great team!
Now onto the subject at hand: Redundancy.
One lesson that most writers are taught is: You Can't Edit Your Own Work.
It's a hard one to swallow since we tend to think our writing is amazing, no matter how long we've been at it. Even a lot of the veteran writers need edits. At least that's what I've seen with all the reading I do. But letting go of that ego and constantly working on bettering your craft will take you much farther in this business as apposed to just publishing anything - like your rough draft. Which I have often thought when reading some of the new writers out there.
Life is a constant learning curve, and that's okay.
For some reason when we are typing away on the keys, really focusing in on a scene we want to get down on paper, we tend to use a lot of the same words. That's fine as long as you realize that you have to go back and revise your work. We like to over use "was" "things" "looked" and a whole host of other junk words. And we can find ourselves choosing a word that we use for describing the same action over and over. Lately I was pointed to the fact that I use "heading" a lot. You know, instead of, walking, strolling, anything other than "heading".
I didn't know I was doing it, and even though I read over my work and attempted to revise, I didn't see I my mistake. It could be any word like the one I used above. And it's not hard to find yourself repeating - we all do it.
The other redundancy we do is trying to point out an important event of issue, we tend to point it out several other times within our dialog or internal thoughts of our characters. I think the reader has gotten the point, especially if you've said it twice already. A third or more times gets monotonous.
But at the same time, when the subject of that issue or event comes up again several chapters later, you do need to remind the reader. Otherwise they will become confused about it and find themselves looking back to see what you're talking about. That's just as obnoxious.
The same goes for past events in your previous series. Sometimes you need to remind the reader about the event so they understand what the characters are facing. This can also become redundant. You don't have to do a "tell all", just key occurrences to juggle their memories. If they haven't read your previous books, then they will have to go back and read them to understand the full extent.
Redundancy is more than a typical issue, it is a constant one. As we become more aware of our craft and the skills we need to focus our efforts on, this one will hopefully fall to a rarity. Remember it's our readers that are the most important if you want to gain fans, and possibly a huge following.
I hope this helps those of you who are new to writing, and maybe some of you who have written a few books. What do you do to prevent redundancy? Do you have great critique partners, or do you even rely on one?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject so leave me a comment!
Have a great week/weekend all!