Redundantly Redundant Redundancies

Redundancies in writing are common. They eat up valuable word space when I’m trying to get my word count down. They are sometimes used to ‘beef’ up a piece when a writer uses them on purpose to increase their word count.

Redundancies are two words put together that are different but mean the same thing. Some of them are filter words and I catch them when I look for filter words.

The thing about redundancies is that they don’t improve the writing at all, it’s the opposite. If I leave them in the impression that might be left with a reader or publisher is that I’m lazy… or worse. So, they have to go.

Redundant word pairings are often hard to spot because we get used to seeing and using them.

Personally, when I’m reading and I see these redundancies in dialogue way too much, I think the character “speaking” is pompous, arrogant or an idiot.

Scott stopped and looked at Amber a brief moment as she ignored his presence. “Amber do you have the proofs on the Foreign Imported Tuna fish project?”
“I need more time to assemble it together. It is absolutely essential I check the actual facts before I can sign off on it. I’ll be done by ten A.M this morning.”
“Works for me, I want the final outcome to be perfect, that’s my ultimate goal.”
“I really like this layout. The way they eliminate altogether the empty space by blending together the illustrated drawing with the landscape scenery.
Scott nodded and touched her shoulder gently. “I look forward to the final outcome. On a side note, how are you? Are you okay?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “No, I’m not. My emotions are all mixed together.”
“I know.” He nodded. “You’re my friend. I had to ask the question. Lunch later?”
“Sure.” She turned back to her work as he walked away. (161)

>>>

Scott stopped and looked at Amber a moment as she ignored his presence. “Amber do you have the proofs on the imported Tuna project?”
“I need time to assemble it. It is essential I check the facts before I can sign off on it. I’ll be done by ten.”
“Works for me Amber, I want the final perfect, that’s my goal.”
“I really like this layout. The way they eliminate the space by blending the illustrated with the scenery.”
Scott nodded and touched her shoulder gently. “I look forward to the final. On a side note, how are you? Are you okay?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “No, I’m not. My emotions are all mixed.”
“I know.” He nodded. “You’re my friend. I had to ask. Lunch later?”
“Sure.” She turned back to her work as he walked away. (140)

Well, this is still not great. It could use some personal touches and further editing, the point is that by eliminating one of the two redundant words I was able to make it less weird and take out 21 words easily. Notice I took out AM in the morning completely. It’s a workplace, and before lunch, therefore 10 am is implied. With the redundancies gone, I’m much happier with how it flows. 

When I was researching which ones to look out for I found “200 redundancies commonly used” found on grammar.about.com. Check out the website for the full list.

Advance forward
Armed gunman
Ascend up or ascended up (up, up and away with up)
Bouquet of flowers
Careful scrutiny
Circulate around
Closed fist
Descend down or Descended down (take down that down!)
Earlier in time
Edible food

Follow after
Frozen ice/tundra/snow
Grow in size
Edge of the cusp
Hurry up (well ‘up’ with anything, check it out ‘up’ is a big filter word)
Input into
Join together
Kneel down (down is another filter word, look for it and see if it’s necessary)
Knowledgeable experts (opposed to unknowledgeable experts.. silly but I’ve seen this one recently)
Lag behind (It would be tricky to lag ahead…)
Live witness (Unless zombie or vampire witnesses are a common thing, ditch the ‘live’)
Local residents (They wouldn’t be residents if they were from out of town.)
Made out of (take out, out)
A new beginning (haha what other kinds of beginning could there be?)
New recruit (‘new’ is a word to look out for it’s often redundant)
Old custom/cliché/proverb (‘Old’ is a filter word to watch out for. Ditch the old if describing something inherently old)
Open up (Oh that danged up!)
Outside in the yard (unless of course your yard is in your basement, then that would warrant explanation too funny.)
Over exaggerate (This partly borrowed list incredible list is seriously very wordy and abundantly over long!)
A pair of twins (Would that mean a trio of twins is three pairs of twins or six twins?
Past history/experience/memories/records (See new in the list above)
Regular routine
Shiny in appearance (Actually get rid of ‘in appearance’ after any description)
Two equal halves (Half is half of one hole right?)
Visible to the eye (unless writing sci-fi it’s not visible to the nose)
Warn in advance (one of my favorites. *eye roll)

My advice about redundancies in writing.
If it’s excessively redundant remove one of the superfluous words by taking it out.   😉

-Sheryl

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I used this website as reference:   grammar.about.com/od/words/a/redundancies.htm
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The ups and downs of writing

I talk a lot about redundant words or filter words. Words that are in general, useless and take up valuable writing space.

Up and down are two such words. Sometimes they are necessary and most often not. When I took a good look at these two I had
460 Up’s brought down to 274 after revision
250 Down’s brought down to 126 after revision.
The remainders were necessary.


For example:

He tied up his shoelaces. – He tied his shoelaces.
He set the mug down on the table. – He set the mug on the table.
She stood up. – She stood.
He sat down hard. – He sat hard.
The balloon rose up in the air. – The balloon rose in the air

Sometimes it’s necessary so don’t use the auto search and replace feature.
For example:

He let her down.
She cheered up.
The arrow pointed down.
You’re going down!
I’ll never give up.

Chances are if I’m using up and down I’m tossing all kinds of other unnecessary words in for giggles. When I find them I take care to check out their neighbouring words and see if anyone else needs to get an eviction notice.

Sasha set down the two layouts on her desk, stood up from her chair and walked over to the window. Looking down to the sidewalk down below she sighed. He was down there waiting for her. He wouldn’t give up. “Persistent jerk.” She pulled down the shade to block the view. Returning to her desk, she sat down, picked up the layouts and started going over what was wrong with them. (71)

Oh dear, I’m a wordy writer. Snip, snip… Time for a trim.

Sasha set the two layouts on her desk, stood and went to the window. Looking at the sidewalk below, she sighed. He was waiting for her. “Persistent jerk.” She pulled the shade blocking the view, returned to her desk, and continued to revise the layouts. (45)

I’m pretty sure her comment about him being persistent can stand in place of “He wouldn’t give up.” I am not perfect and even revising and editing my material, I’m certain I miss things like this. That is why I make a list of words such as up and down and use the search(search only not search and replace) feature and check up on each and every occurrence. Tedious? Yup you bet, but when you trim the excess and end up with something smooth and shiny it’s rewarding. 

My advice about up and downs.
It’s a common sense thing. You can use them if you want to, but redundancy can cost you professionalism points in the eyes of agents, publishers and readers. Consider the value of the words you use and improve on them if you can.

-Sheryl

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More is less, and vice versa.

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Value

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

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