This week’s question is from Shreya who writes, ” I have written a romance novel which is currently 1,20,000 words long and I am still not done. As I read it I realized that I am sounding repetitive at a lot of places. How do I weed out the redundancies and fine tune my novel?“
Editing your own work can be a tedious process because you need to detach yourself completely from the work to be able to see its flaws. Kudos to you for having been able to notice the mistakes in your manuscript!
Effective writing has to be evocative. Photographers try to capture a frame that breathes life into the subject. If the viewer is made to feel a part of the landscape, there is bound to be more engagement with the work. Similarly, the writer too must create a vivid word-pictures. Take the reader with you into that dark alley where the unknown roams, alive and warm. It can be done with simple words, but they must be chosen parsimoniously. The most powerful writing is brief to the point of austerity.
At times, repetition helps you create emphasis. Saying the same thing using different words underlines the thought. Restating an idea to make it more effective is different from verbiage. One way to avoid falling into its trap is to cut the use of redundant words. Here’s how redundancy looks like:
• Why don’t we meet at
actual/ true facts point to premeditated murder.
• The reception hall was
• It is
absolutely essential to follow the steps exactly.
• She plunged
down the handle of the machine.
• He was forced to retreat
back to his car.
• My aunt gave me the exact
same object as a birthday gift each year.
or not your writing stands out…
• Do you want that t-shirt smaller (or larger)
basic fundamentals are unclear.
• The new girl was said to have a chequered past
• The ideal would surely evolve
• The meeting ended with a consensus
If the crossed out words had been included, the sentences would have sounded clunky and inelegant. Consider this:
Michelle was supposed to have her car’s oil changed every 3,000 miles, and since it had been 3,000 miles since her last oil change, she took her car to the mechanic.
There is nothing wrong with the sentence. But it is tiring to read it. There is too much information given. Most of it is irrelevant to the reader. Moreover, by spoon-feeding him, we give him an avenue to run away to gather rosebuds. If we compel him to supply the deficit in narration by implying it, he is kept engaged and bound. It is thus better to say:
Michelle had the mechanic change her car’s oil because it had been 3,000 miles since the last one.
The revised sentence implies that the oil was supposed to be changed every 3000 miles. Most readers are quite capable of furnishing the explicitly missing information. It makes them participate in the narrative. That is exactly what all writers want, right?
Revising your work is important. It helps you minimize clunky and unwieldy sentences. It is natural for a reader to disconnect when you ramble and do not produce a new thought by the time the previous one has been absorbed.Revise your work by reading it out loud and weighing the value of each word. Ruthless revision is a powerful self-editing tool. The focus must be on faithfully delivering the message, not in impressing the reader with your knowledge of the thesaurus. Clearing your work of redundancies will transform lack-luster, rambling, and occasionally confusing writing into sparkling prose that delights and engages!
This week’s question has been answered by one of our core team members, Ms. Dagny Sol who is a passionate bibliophile. Her love for the written word is deep and enduring. The play of words holds her captive. It always has.
She firmly believes that when words come together to fashion a book, magic happens. To be invited to become a part of that process, is a privilege. The combination of language skills and passion for words, help make her an efficient editor.
Do feel free to send us your questions either by email or you can leave a comment here for us to cover it in the next Monday Microscope.