Kill Off Those Patronizing Redundancies

Hire a hit man. Yes, you heard me. Go find a scary guy with scissors who can slash those condescending redundancies out of your writing. Unless you do, readers will feel patronized, like you don’t trust them enough to use their God-given brains to figure things out on their own.  Keep in mind, however, that even big-name authors like Daniel Silva are guilty of using these. So if you struggle, you’re not alone.

Maybe you’re one of the few who doesn’t make these mistakes, but given the hundreds of manuscripts I’ve edited over the last decade, trust me when I say I’ve seen a lot of the same flaws. And redundancy is so common. Let’s get right down to what I mean. These are some of the common ones I see every day.

He squinted his eyes.

He nodded his head.

He waved his hand.

He shrugged his shoulders.

What’s wrong with these sentences? Nothing grammatical. The problem is being guilty of lazy thinking and using more words than needed.

What else do you use when you squint? The verb squinted already tells readers that eyes are used.

What else do you nod with other than your head? I guess you could use a fist and a sock puppet, but I don’t know anybody who does that.

Do you wave an elbow or a knee? Or an eyebrow?

I guess I could try to shrug my nose. Not so sure that would work, though. Might take some practice like this:

Readers lead busy lives just like the rest of us, and making them read extra words is just rude. So here are simple fixes:

He squinted.

He nodded.

He waved.

He shrugged.

Simple right? It’s actually not so easy to see these mistakes in your own writing.

So go find that hit man or just hire me. I’ve been doing this gig every day, all day, from home since 2006.

Do you have any favorite redundancies? List them below. There are few I haven’t seen, but I may be surprised.

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