Tips for Avoiding Redundancy

Tautologies pair synonymous words. "But" and "however" mean the same thing, so the phrase "but however" is redundant. A moment is by its nature brief, so we needn't speak of a brief moment to be understood. You don't have to explain the reason why when you can explain the reason, or when you can explain why.
Author:
Publish date:

Tautologies pair synonymous words. "But" and "however" mean the same thing, so the phrase "but however" is redundant. A moment is by its nature brief, so we needn't speak of a brief moment to be understood. You don't have to explain the reason why when you can explain thereason, or when you can explain why.

Tautologies, sometimes called "baby puppies," come in these forms:

  • The tautological adjective: a small smidgeon, annual birthday, glowing ember
  • The tautological double adjective: the pure unadulterated truth, a teeny tiny portion, the itsy bitsy spider
  • The tautological adverb: protrude out, rise up, dash quickly
  • The tautological double noun: Sahara Desert, cash money, switchblade knife
  • The tautological double conjunction: and also, but however
  • The tautological pair: each and every, forever and ever, the one and only.

To keep these puppies from nipping at your ankles:

  1. Read your copy carefully. Pause at the "invisible" words. "And" is invisible; "also" is invisible; "and also" is neither more nor less visible, unless you're looking for it. Pause at word combinations. If you encounter a double noun, drop one to see if the sentence still makes sense; if an adverb-verb or adjective-noun, drop the modifier to see if you lose anything. If you can drop "advance" from "advance planning," do it.
  2. Maintain an active vocabulary that is not only broad but also deep. Learn not just what words mean, but what they imply, what they embrace. Read not only for the sake of writing but also for the sake of the words; read to learn words. Look words up, but don't stop there. Hunt words. As you readdictionary definitions, dig into their origins, their evolution and their current scope. You perhaps never looked up "pedal." Common word, originating from the Latin root "ped," or foot. So why do we say "foot pedal"? (As opposed to the elbow pedal?) Why do we note a "pedestrian on foot"?
  3. Analyze noy only what words mean, but also what they imply. Redundancy occurs when extra words either repeat what another word means or implies. An example of repetition of meaning: Facts are true, so the phrase "true facts" works under "false pretenses," a phrase wrought from the same verbose construction. "I" and "myself" are the same person, so your saying "I myself" doesn't make you any more you than you already are. An example of repetition of implication: By strict definition, facts don't have to be known to be facts. There are plenty of facts about the universe — the exact number of stars, how the universe began, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood — that we don't know. Still, the word "facts" implies information that we know, so "known facts" and "established facts" are usually redundant.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the enemy — and there are thousands of enemies.
precedent_vs_president_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.

new_agent_alert_tasneem_motala_the_rights_factory

New Agent Alert: Tasneem Motala of The Rights Factory

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Tasneem Motala of The Rights Factory) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Miller_1:19

Timothy Miller: The Alluring Puzzle of Fact and Fiction

Screenwriter and novelist Timothy Miller explains how he came to write historical fiction and how research can help him drive his plot.

Batra&DeCandido_1:18

Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!