Saturday, October 9, 2010

Redundancy. Redundancy

Ah, yes. A sneaky little sucker. Why do we feel the need to over explain things in our writing?? I blame my dad. he always overinstructed everything he taught us to do. We would nod and roll our eyes and mumble, "Yes, Dad... we've got it."

Truthfully, I don't even notice it when I revise. It seems so natural for me to read redundancy because I know it's me explaining to the reader. But it all goes back to trusting the reader--understanding they are intelligent and can make intuitive leaps and bounds. Just like with my dad ... he couldn't assume that we understood the first round of instructions because we were young.

Recently, I attended kidlit agent Mary Kole's WD webinar. Ironically, it was redundant for me. Only because I'm past the point of what she was teaching on the teen/tween market. (Stuff I've already researched) However, there were some great reminders and interesting to have her perspective as coming from one of the top kid lit agencies in the country, Andrea Brown.

My main incentive for participating was the 250 word critique Mary was offering everyone of their first page. This, I could not resist. And since I'd recently wrote a brand new chapter for FLOAT, I needed her critique badly. She was amazing on the turn around time. Two weeks later she emailed the critique, and what was her number one issue with my writing??? You guessed it.... REDUNDANCY!

I'd even had betas read the first chapter and they hadn't caught it, either. Not to say they're not great betas...  I love, love, love my betas! I don't know if I'd notice it, either. Obviously, I don't notice it in my own work. Mary picked out three different paragraphs from my first page where I restated something I'd already said, but in a different way. She said I started the story in a good place, but I'm not trusing the reader to get it.

Hmm.... I said to myself. That mans I have to go back through the entire ms and edit for redundancy alone. Cool. Glad it's apparent to me now. I plan to watch out for it. Also, she mentioned when writing in first person, imagine yourself sitting around a campfire telling a story. Don't use an outside-looking-in approach. In my dialogue I had used the tag:  I said, my voice quiet, determined.

That was her point... that a person would never tell a story like that about themselves, that that is a third person narration technique.

Hopefully, that will help some of you as well. I'll post more on Mary's webinar later next week. I've got a busy day ahead and have our Annual Witch's Ball tonight. Some girlfirends from high shool and I do it every year in costume. This year the theme is "Queens."  So I'm dressing as the White Queen from Wonderland and I'll post pics later.

Any of you have any thoughts on redundancy? Does it plague your work as well? If not, what does?

7 comments:

Hannah Kincade said...

Oh my first drafts are drowning in redundancy. Love it! LOL! That's what rewriting is for, right?

Quinn said...

I really wanted to do this webinar, but had just moved into a new apartment and was a little short on money. Anyway, glad you posted this. I participated in Miss Snark's First Victim's September Secret Agent Contest. Some of the people noted that I repeated myself. I actually knew that I had done it, but I felt that it was hitting the point home -- really getting into how the character would be thinking. Guess not. Redundancy ... I need to be on the look out for it.

Kathryn said...

Wow - missed that! Redundancy is such a big problem with me too, I find. I find I have a big problem with being redundant sometimes, you know?

J/K... actually it is something I have to watch for when I write, and sometimes I completely miss all the tiny redirections I'm giving my writers.

That's a good point about writing in the character's voice - no one says "I said quietly" or whatever. We can leave those all out, it seems... huh.

...

Um, I need to go back and look over some of my writing now.

William Kendall said...

Oh, I'm sure it's lurking in my passages, waiting for me to go back and rewrite...

Nathalie Schiltz said...

I think I have the same problem :s
So much editing to do...

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Now I have to check my WIP for redundancy. Bet I find some.

JEFritz said...

This is exactly what I was thinking. I always want to evoke a certain sensation and explain to death what I think will create it, which ends up making it blah-blah-blah. And then? A few paragraphs/pages/chapters later, I end up going over the same information again.

One tip I've found that has ridiculously helped me with finding things: switch to a different font. I don't know why, but changing to Calibri has suddenly made all these things pop out at me. Which reminds me, I better get back to it:)