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Writer’s Tip #38: Delete Repetitive Redundancies

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Delete Redundancies

You’re on a roll. You’re impressed with your ability to string two, or ten words together. You figure more is better.

Wrong. Get rid of redundant words. Here’s what I mean:

  • Past history–what other kind of history is there?
  • sky above–can the sky be below?
  • continued on–can you continue any other way?
  • hung down–hung up? Not the same thing
  • roof over her head–otherwise it’s a floor (below her feet)
  • whispered softly
  • tall skyscrapers
  • end result
  • alternative choice
  • mix together
  • qualified expert
  • close proximity
  • red in color
  • small in size

I think you get the idea.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is  editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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12 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #38: Delete Repetitive Redundancies

  1. But Jacqui, these are often used for emphasis, or to give colour or make the prose poetic or they are colloquial an should definately be used in dialogue where they fit the character of the speaker.

  2. So good to remember this! Thanks :)
    It is frustrating sometimes how these phrases are so commonly used. It’s an easy habit to fall into, and definitely makes for unimaginative writing and boring reading!

      • Haha yes the horses like to give chase sometimes… cat, chickens, dogs, sheep, all are fair game if they are in the horse paddock!
        But our little cat knows exactly when she can stay still around them and when she needs to run away. We got her from a cat haven as a kitten and she’s been through some hard times, but is a wonderful companion as well as a good farm cat :) Last night she caught a fat mouse and brought it up to the house, plonked herself down on the doormat and crunched it down in front of us. I like the idea that a city cat can learn to be a farm cat, and love the farm life as much as her humans :)

  3. Excellent post, as good as the recent post about words to bury. I’m saving both lists and adding words and phrases to each as I think of them. On the lists, out of my stories. Thanks for such useful advice.

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