Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reducing and Removing Redundancy

Sometimes, when describing a favorite concept or some trick of magic in my stories, I tend to get a bit over-the-top. A little of that is no big deal - hey, we're reading/writing fantasy, we should be able to handle it. The biggest problem that comes with this habit of mine is the overuse of certain words.

Word repetition is actually a big pet peeve of mine as well, which makes it all the more embarrassing when I use the word 'power' or 'force' several times in the space of two paragraphs. The problem is that I get the opposite problem when I try to pare them down by substituting other words. Power. Force. Magic. Wrath. Anger. Vigor. Violence. Et cetera. Et cetera.It becomes a comical cavalcade of vocabulary.

Really the only solution for this is to abbreviate the descriptions themselves, thus necessitating the use of fewer of these words. In fact, the description of abstract concepts is a realm that I need a much greater mastery over, given my love of trying to share them with the reader.

A couple tools I've used for this are examining such passages sentence by sentence and making sure that each one is saying something different. This rule alone has helped me the most. After all, I can write:

"The force of the mage's will pressed inward upon his enemy, befuddling the man's mind and slowing his blows. The mage lashed his foe with power, robbing his every action of urgency."

Pretty passages, maybe. Too bad they say the exact same thing. I have a habit of falling in love with my own sentences, when worded just so. No doubt most writers do. Lately I find myself getting irritated when I come across a mistake like the above, though. This is good - if modern me can be annoyed at past me, it will be easier to kill past me's darlings.

It also comes down in part to trusting the reader. I know exactly what I'm imagining, and I want so badly to get the reader there as well. I have to learn to put the skeleton of an idea out there, with only the crucial aspects sketched, and let the reader fill in the less important details themself.

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