That sounds right

Subtle redundancies can clunk up writing and add unnecessary and unwanted words. As a wordy writer, I need to be aware of this since I’m constantly battling to hack out extra words. By removing simple words that were already explained in an obvious manner, the sentence can transform from clumsy to graceful.

“That sounds right.” He nodded his head agreeing with her. (10)
Those last five words can be removed. Nodding already tells us that he’s in agreement. Explaining the action is redundant.
“That sounds right.” He nodded. (5)

“Sure, why not.” He shrugged his shoulders. (7)
Unless someone has figured out how to shrug their buttocks or their lips, it’s safe to say shoulders are implied.
“Sure, why not?” He shrugged. (5)
I might even swap that around depending on the character.
He shrugged. “Sure why not?” (5)

The ball went into the net; they stood up and clapped their hands. (13)
I don’t recall anyone ever clapping their feet or elbows so that can go. Also with the up, standing implies up so…
The ball went into the net; they stood and clapped. (10) 
Or,
They stood and clapped when the ball went into the net. (11)

“Why?” He blinked his eyes at her. (7)
There is only one body part that blinks, well two if you want to be technical and if the character has both eyes and isn’t a cyclops or spider hybrid.  ::;)
“Why?” He blinked at her.  (5)
It’s pretty obvious what blink, blinking, or blinked means. You could even go so far as to say:
“Why?” He blinked. (3)

She heard the sound of a siren in the distance. (10)
‘Sound of’ could be deleted, obviously the word heard suggested a sound long before the word sound crashed the party.
She heard a siren in the distance. (7)
You could even say this instead.
A siren was heard in the distance. (7)

She looked him over from head to toe and licked her lips.  (12)
Well she didn’t lick her nose or her eyeball. However, I would leave this one alone because ‘She licked’ is incomplete and could lead the reader to any number of inappropriate conclusions. Common sense here.
She looked him over from head to toe and licked.  (10)
See? Oh boy what did she lick?  Yeah not everything obvious is redundant make sure it makes sense and its what you meant to say.

My point is that I do this all the time, I’m sure that others do as well. It might not be a huge deal, but it might make the difference between your writing looking like amateur hour or a well-revised piece of art.

My advice about redundancies.
Edit them out if you can. If you can’t or don’t have the patience or time, get someone else to proof or hire an editor if need be.

-Sheryl

Related Posts

Conversing is easy…not!

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Graceful
Sound

Advertisements

Sensible sensation

Immersing the reader into the story is something I still strive to achieve. When writing it’s important to use all five senses. Smell, sight, taste, hear and touch. Now it’s not imperative every scenario have all five, but it can help plump up a drab sentence.

For example

Joe picked up the book from the desk. It was heavy and bound in black leather, it crackled when he opened it.

Yawn. I need to make this book more important, to focus on it and make Joe experience the book. To do this I use a technique explained in The FAB pencil to describe the book better. This is not going to decrease word count by any means, but is a great way to add words if that’s the goal.

Now for fun, I’m going to add all five senses to this interaction and bring Joe and the book together like lovers on a moonlit night, instead of strangers on an awkward blind date.

Hear

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Touch

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk and ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Smell

Joe picked up the heavy leather bound book from the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the room as he opened the cover. He inhaled the musty scent of old paper and ink as it wafted to his nose.

Sight – this isn’t always necessary since he is clearly looking at the book. Depending on how important the book is, will depend on how much time I put into describing it and the interaction. This book is important so it warrants a better description. At this point I have decided that picking the book up doesn’t make sense. It’s unnecessary.

Joe peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

Taste – I’m not likely to have him lick or eat the book, that would be weird. Maybe if this was a totally different scenario or he had a paper eating problem it would fit, however for this I’ll keep taste subtle.

Joe licked his salty lips as he peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

Voila. Now Joe fully interacted with the book. Making him lick his lips also added emotion, depending on what came before this interaction it might be excitement, anticipation or nervousness maybe even fear.

My advice about senseless writing.
Take some time to make important objects blend into the story, make them become part of the experience and not a foreign object explained coldly.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Related posts

The FAB pencil

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

 

Together