Today I have a guest post written by Nastasia Peters about Redundancies of Writing.
Guest post: The attack of redundancies
I don’t know if every Author has this issue, if you don’t, then you are very lucky. Had it not been for my Editor, I might have never figured it out. November 2011, I finish writing the last sentence of the last installment in the Zinc Trilogy, I was feeling pretty awesome and all kinds of accomplished. That’s okay, I wasn’t yet in the editing mind set, let alone the publishing mind set. I was going to worry about those later.
My Editor starts on the first book, I can only feel better about myself when she compliments me on the fact that my grammar is good and I have a rich vocabulary (that’s not to say there weren’t any mistakes though). Then, the power switches over to her.
Editor: “A little.”
Me: “A little what?”
Editor: “Too many ‘a little’. The times you have used that is borderline abusive.”
I tried to figure out a generous amount of creative explanations that would excuse the number of times I had used ‘a little’ in sentences, paragraphs, pages, scenes… Worse. Chapters. But none were powerful enough to make my Editor stop raising her eyebrow at me in that amused manner that she does or tsk at me.
So I open my text program which has a pretty nifty tool that allows me to enable a search bar, type in a word and then it’s going to list that word every time it was used. I can then click on it and it instantly takes me to the page and paragraph where the word is located, highlighting it. Now, this tool is nifty when you first find it and it’s all new and awesome! The awesomeness is quickly kicked out of it with force when it shows you how often you’ve used ‘a little’ in the entire book. The number of times I had used it wasn’t just borderline abusive, it was murder. Assassination at its highest level, or you know, like going to the dentist to get a tooth pulled.
I’m not telling you the number.
I spent a good portion of an afternoon clicking on every single ‘a little’ and deleted them. Some of you are probably going “why?” or are laughing right now. You should, my Editor did too. I hadn’t found out about the tool ‘find and replace’ yet.
Once the ‘a little’ invasion had been successfully defeated, the revenge of the ‘seemingly’ poked its head out of the surface and rebelled. After that there was a glorious bomb of ‘She, her, she’ and ‘He, him, he’. And for the grand finale, the I’s. So many sentences that started with I. Once the problem had been shoved before my eyes and I saw the painful redundancies, I almost, almost, wanted to take the entire manuscript – go to the grocery store real quick to buy some ink – print it out JUST so I could rip it to pieces.
I assure you, all redundancies were properly fought off and/or destroyed by mine and the Editor’s razor sharp battle axes. To make sure they couldn’t come back as a living dead type creature, we burnt them to the stake and drowned their ashes afterwards in a sealed off goldfish aquarium and then proceeded in burying it six feet under at an unknown location.
It would be easy to get discouraged after you realize the number of mistakes you’ve made, but I know from experience and would like to tell those who don’t know yet, once you realize the mistakes you’ve made and swallow the hurt or disappointment in yourself, you won’t make the error twice. Your writing will become richer and once you grow more confident, it will show through your words, your story.