Redundant Expressions

I was just over on the Daily Writing Tips blog, checking out some of their older posts, and came upon one about redundant expressions.

You know 'em, and probably cringe when you find 'em in the revision stage:
  • free gift
  • reiterate again
  • green-colored car
(Daily Writing Tips had something similar to the last one in my bulleted list, and I'll admit that my first thought was, "Huh?" That was soon followed by "D'oh!" My further response: More caffeine dumped down my gullet. :-))

What Works and What Doesn't

One of the ideas when you're writing is to choose the correct words; usually, the fewer the better. This is hard to do until you get in the groove of writing every day. Then, over time, word choices will become easier, as you get a feel for what works and what doesn't.

Redundant expressions, like "army soldier," are of the "not-works" type, in case you hadn't figured that out ;-).

Slashing and Burning In the Revision Stage

In the creative stage, the first draft stage, I think you should just go for it; let the typos and other mistakes fly. The important thing is to get the basic story down, even if you've outlined it first.

The revision stage is when you allow the inner critic into the mix. You know, it's that PITA voice that says stuff like, "There should be a comma here," or "This scene really doesn't work," or "Give this guy a name already, will ya?" I don't think you should allow it free reign because then it might stifle your enthusiasm for the story (this is something that's happened to me; oh brother, has it ever!), but allow it in enough so that it can catch stuff like these types of expressions.

I remember going back to a story months, sometimes years, later and finding stuff that made me flinch, including these expressions (which are called pleonasm); jeez, did I really write that?

Um. Yeah.

In Summary

So try to eliminate "navy sailor" and other types of these expressions wherever you can. If you don't feel you've caught them all, have a writer friend look over your story; sometimes fresh eyes can pick up stuff that you can't.

~Nancy Beck