And believe me, when one is living among cowhands, one will undoubtedly encounter innumerable grammar faux pas. I chose to ignore them, however, as my time with Jake (sigh!) was too special!
Alas, now we must return to the real world and get down to the business of polishing your manuscripts. Today’s lecture is on the subject of redundancy, or needless repetition, something a skilled writer should strive to avoid.
Here are several frequently used redundant phrases:
Added bonus. How else does one receive a bonus, if not additionally?
Basic fundamentals. By definition a fundamental is basic!
Cooperate together. Hard to cooperate separately, in my opinion.
Difficult dilemma. Have you ever experienced an easy dilemma?
Free gift. Unless, perhaps, the gift has strings attached.
Past experience. Is there any other kind?
Plan ahead. Rather late to plan in arrears, wouldn’t you say?
Unintended mistake. One hopes one does not make mistakes on purpose!
Very unique. Something is either one of a kind, or it is not.
Another source of redundancy among writers involves common body language:
Jake nodded his head. Can you really picture this handsome cowboy nodding his shoulder or knee?
Will shrugged his shoulders. I expect he would find it difficult to shrug a hand or elbow, even if his arm were not tucked tenderly around Jenny!
Repetition sometimes rears its ugly head in the form of repeated words, phrases, or character actions. For example, as I assisted Myra with recent book edits, we discovered her characters frequently huffed to show indignation or flicked their gazes when distracted or flustered. In revising her latest work-in-progress, we've encountered an abundance of characters squeezing their eyes shut or propping hips against desks or door frames. Your pet word or phrase may change from manuscript to manuscript, so be on your guard!
And now, as always, GQ has a quiz for you. Point out the redundancies in the following sentences:
- Audra lives in close proximity to the mountains.
- Foreign imports are Cara’s favorite kind of automobile.
- Debby received no advance warning that her flight would be cancelled.
- The end result of Glynna’s weekend of writing was a completed manuscript.
- Janet’s book signing had to be postponed until later.
- Julie first began her writing career hoping to write the next Gone With the Wind.
- Mary stayed up until 2:00 a.m. in the morning to finish reading the mystery novel.
- Absolutely essential to Missy’s writing routine is a strong cup of coffee.
- Pantser-writer Myra does only minimal advance planning before beginning a new book.
- During the course of her book launch, Pam held a successful Facebook party.
- Ruthy accepts the consensus of opinion that she is occasionally bossy.
- While researching her novel, Sandra experienced a major breakthrough.
- Tina closely scrutinizes the Weekend Edition before taking it live.