Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Friday, April 22, 2011


What is one problem most novice writers have with their manuscript? If you answered, the word count is too high, then you are reading my mind. Ha!

So many times I have heard agents, editors, and other writers talk about the dreaded word count question.  And, it's true, so many writers have bloated manuscripts.  One way to combat an overloaded novel is by editing out unintentional repetition.

Good writers know how to toss out repeated words and phrases, but what I want to talk about today is slicing redundancies of an effect.  In other words, cutting two or more sentences or paragraphs that convey the same information, meaning, description, personality traits, or even characters who fill the same role in the novel. 

This is something I have been learning how to do in recent days with my new WIP.  Sometimes they are very difficult to find because we are so in love with the words we have written. That's mainly why people tell us to put our manuscripts away for a few weeks to gain new perspective when starting to revise and edit.  Here are some examples from one of my WIPs.

Example #1: I was determined not to leave without my answers.  No matter how hard he might try, he would not deter me.

This basically says the same thing.  So, I had to choose which one I thought was stronger.  For me, it was the first sentence.

Example #2: Her skin was more olive toned, and she looked Mediterranean.

This example shows a redundancy in description. I'm essentially describing her skin tone two different ways. Once is usually enough.

Here's a checklist you can use to help spot those pesky repetitions in your manuscript.

1. Reread your MS focusing on the mood, background, or point you're trying to set.  How many different ways are you doing each of them?

2. Check the chapter level too. Do you have more than one chapter that accomplishes the same goal?

3. Are your antagonists evil in more than one way?

4. As always, check for word and phrase repeats.

Remember to trust your reader.  Give he/she just want he/she needs to get into your world. Don't over explain everything. 

1 comment:

  1. good points. these are often things we can't see for ourselves unless we are specifically looking for them (a nice beta always helps too).