We Are Told to Avoid Redundant Words
Redundant words are a nightmare for many of us. The experts tell us to be powerful writers we should not use redundant words.
But, what are they? How can we avoid them? Do you believe learning about redundant words will help your writing?
We discovered why redundant words significantly slow down our writing. However, we also discovered places where they added oomph to our writing. This was an eye-opening surprise we would like to share with you.
Stay with us, this post includes a fun exercise at the end.
What Are Redundant Words
Redundant means unnecessary. A redundant word doesn’t repeat the exact same word. The phrase usually uses a similar word or words with the same meaning.
Sometimes the phrase simply includes unnecessary words. Words with the same exact meaning.
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When to Avoid Redundant Words
Redundant words are silent killers of fiction writing. These expressions clutter up your writing. They can even make your stories more difficult to read.
When writing fiction, it is absolutely essential to keep your sentences crisp and clear. Repetition of meaning can give the impression you don’t understand the words, or you are careless in your word choice.
With careful scrutiny you can avoid useless fillers.
First of all, using our list will make you more aware of common redundant phrases.
I know we are all eager to write crisp, vibrant sentences. For more information check out: How to Become a Power Writer
Here are a few tricks about Redundant Words
The first trick: redundant expressions are often created when adjectives repeat the meaning contained in the word they describe.
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It would be better to leave out the adjective. There is no need to use the adjective past because the meaning is already contained in the noun, histories. If you remove the adjective the meaning of the sentence is not affected.
A second trick: adverbs often repeat the meaning of the verb. Especially look for verbs that begin with the prefix such as RE- (meaning again or back) or Pro- (meaning out or forward, etc.)
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As you can see there is no need for the word back since reverted means going back to something. The extra words dilute your ideas. These phrases silently erode your reader’s attention. Your sentences might be clearer if the adverb is left out.
Frankly, if you’re serious about writing you must learn to pick and choose the right words before they rob your writing of its power. See our Post about: Writing Strong Sentences
Let’s Take Another Look at Writing Fiction.
This is an important point. Are you using an outside narrator to tell your story rather than a point of view character?
If so, the narrator needs to sound sociable and maybe a little quirky. To accomplish that your narrator must sound friendly and informal. Redundant words can help do that. Words like the ones below are perfectly acceptable coming from a narrator.
Examples: (Actual) fact (end) result (alternate) choice (sudden) impact evolve (over time)
Here’s A Secret We Learned About Redundant
Most of us write the way we speak. Which means, if you use redundant words when you talk, you probably use them when you write. Examine our list. You may be astonished how often you use these phrases when you speak and write.
Because these phrases are so common, redundant words can easily creep into your writing. For the same reason, you may miss them when editing. Test your sentences. Check to see if some words could be removed, without changing the meaning.
Choose the best word and eliminate the rest.
Once you become aware of these phrases you will begin to notice and eliminate them when you write and edit. By eliminating these extra words your writing will have a stronger impact on your readers.
Sometimes Redundant Words are Good
Now we have another surprise for you. There are places to use redundant words even in fiction writing.
Before you say we’re crazy, allow me to explain. As I just mentioned everyone uses redundant words when they speak.
Think about it. We all want our dialogue to sound realistic and natural. What is more realistic than redundant words. People use them all the time.
Redundant phrases will help your dialogue sound more normal. Use phrases that represent the time and place of your story.
Certain redundant expressions are common to specific regions or countries. Use these types of phrases in dialog to help establish your setting or to show where your character comes from.
Examples: Forever (and ever) Pouring (down rain) You (all) come Might (could) Frozen (ice) Crystal(clear)
Redundant Words Magnify Other Words
Redundant phrases are often used in advertising to add emphasis, or to make a stronger plea for a customer’s purchase.
Examples: Free(gift) (Added) bonus (Better) value Current (trends)
Another reason to write redundant words is because they sound more friendly or diplomatic.
Your business may want to say, “there appears to be an error in your records” rather than “Pay your bill, you deadbeat!” Or “We’ve discovered there might possibly be discrepancies in your books,” rather than “get ready for a visit from the IRS.”
Therefore, in business correspondence in particular, redundancies may not only be necessary but preferred.
Examples: (In my) opinion Might (possibly) Reason (why) Appears (to be)
Now for a Really Big Surprise
We discovered when writing posts for our website the experts tell us we should use transitional words and phrases.
Guess what transitional words are? Many of them are simply unnecessary words and phrases .
Therefore, when we are writing fiction, we look for redundant phrases to avoid them. Because we want to strengthen our writing.
But when we’re writing web posts, we need to add transitional phrases, which are often redundant.
There is a Lot to Learn About Writing.
Obviously, there is more to writing redundant phrases than we thought.
Increase your writing and editing skills by learning about redundant phrases.
Start off by reading our list of 216 redundant phrases. Bookmark this post. Review the list periodically to refresh your memory. The list is not all inclusive, there are many more redundant phrases. But our list will only get you started.
A Fun Exercise
To prove to you how easy it is to miss redundant phrases, we have included 12 in our post. (Not including the examples)
Did you catch them as you read? If not reread the article to find them.
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John & Patty Writingagreatbook.com. 2019
Two other posts we enjoyed about redundant phrases