How to Avoid the Mayhem of Redundant Words?

We all have a safety net of our own unique vocabulary.  These are the words that we’re comfortable with and they help to define our emotions, thoughts, and desires.  You could say that our comfortable word choices helps to define who we are as a person.  We are creatures of habit.

Words are strong.  Words can hurt, inspire, and incite.  “The pen is mightier than the sword”, holds words to an entire new meaning of truth.

I’m working on my third novel in my Emily Stone Series.  There are many emotions flowing through my body.  I’m excited that I’m going to complete book number three.  I’m tired of rereading the same sentence.  I’m exasperated to find another redundant word that I’ve used a million times in my story that I have to change. 

How did I get so simple with my words?  Is it my safety net of vocabulary words?  Do I really use that adjective so many times when I’m describing something?  Oh my!

Through the grueling process of rewrites, you discover many things about yourself as a person and as a writer.  I found myself using certain words on this novel where I had really dig deep into my psyche to find a more appropriate words.  The thesaurus is fine for most simple words, but I find that it doesn’t suffice for that particular adjective or description I need. 

For example, how many times can you use the word “cop”?  Well, you can say officer, police, fuzz, law enforcement personnel, policeman, policewoman, pig (I wouldn’t actually use that word), investigator, CSI, forensic tech, and police officer.  Basically, I mix it up in my story.

Some examples of overused words, the use of went, walked, moved, and talked.  There are more appropriate and colorful words, such as slithered, sauntered, traveled, departed, jogged, chatted, gabbed, encouraged, and stirred.  Of course, there are many more words, but you get the idea.

I decided a while back to write down a couple dozen words that I seem to be rather connected to and replace each one with ten to twenty words.  I have a nice redundant word cheat sheet.  I would highly recommend it to anyone writing a long article, novella or full length novel to take the first ten pages and highlight words that are either redundant or don’t give a punch.

What are some of your favorite redundant words that need some spicing up?

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 Blog: www.authorjenniferchase.com/
Website: www.jenniferchase.vpweb.com/
Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
Book & Crime Talk: www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase/
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting      

About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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5 Responses to How to Avoid the Mayhem of Redundant Words?

  1. I find the words “could” and “glanced” need to be removed or pared down from my first drafts. And let’s not forget the word “just” that creeps in periodically.

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  2. Great examples Carolyn. It’s funny how we seem to be comfortable with certain words. I think there’s a little psychology in there about who we are…🙂 I have a problem from time to time with “that” for some reason. When do you use it or when is it redundant?

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  3. This article interested me right from the off. My wife and I were discussing this only last night. lol For me ‘would’, ‘before’ and as Carolyn mentioned, ‘just’ finds a way to creep in a quite a bit. ‘Said’ is a problem child, also.

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  4. I’m so glad that I’m not ALONE! lol I went back and looked at a manuscript that I wrote a while ago and ICK my redundant words were terrible. Good news, at least we evolve.

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  5. Ryan Martin says:

    I find myself having to resist the urge to write quip far too much. Of all words…

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