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Today’s Writers’ Tips

Plot Number 8: The Rivalry Fiction Plot

Rivalry? Now that’s an interesting concept, especially when considering fiction plots. Rivalry…in other words COMPETITION between two characters.

I suppose the most classic example of this kind of plot would be found in the greatest book ever written: the Bible, with the conflict between God and Satan. So, let’s have a look at the characteristics that make a really good rivalry fiction story:

PLOT #8

RIVALRY

Two Royal Navy men boxing for charity. The modern sport was codified in England.

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

The Bible (God vs. Satan)

Paradise Lost

Moby Dick

Ben Hur

  1. The source of the conflict in the story should come as a result of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
  2. The nature of the rivalry should be the struggle for power between the protagonist and the antagonist.
  3. The adversaries can be equally matched.
  4. Although their strengths needn’t match exactly, one rival should have compensating strengths to match (or almost match) the other.
  5. The story should begin at the point of initial conflict, introducing the status quo before the conflict begins.
  6. Start the action, (the catalyst scene), by having the antagonist instigate against the will of the protagonist.
  7. The struggle between the rivals should be a struggle on the characters’ power curves. One is usually inversely proportional to the other: As the antagonist rises on the power curve, the protagonist falls.
  8. The antagonist should gain superiority over the protagonist in the first dramatic phase. The protagonist usually suffers the actions of the antagonist and so is usually at a disadvantage.
  9. The sides are usually clarified by the moral issues involved.
  10. The second dramatic phase reverses the protagonist’s descent on the power curve through a reversal of fortune.
  11. The antagonist is often aware of the protagonist’s empowerment.
  12. The protagonist often reaches a point of parity on the power curve before a challenge is possible.
  13. The third dramatic phase deals with the final confrontation between the rivals.
  14. At the resolution, the protagonist restores order for himself and his world.

Wow! If you ask me, this is a basket full of important characteristics you need to incorporate into your rivalry plot. But if you read some classics and see how the authors of those works handled this subgenre, I’m sure you’ll be able to crank out your own rivalry fiction plot that could become a best seller!

Next time, we’ll look at plot # 9: The Underdog

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!”)

Happy writing!

Marsha

********************************************************

Visit the Amish of Snyder County

Louellen Finds True Love

(Volume 1 in The Loves of Snyder County Trilogy)

http://amzn.to/2nPcHzA

  

Amish wife Louellen Friesen questions her husband’s loyalty,

her Amish beliefs, and her own passions.

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Fiction: That Pesky Point of View

Over my twenty-year writing career, I have met many newbies to the fiction writing world who have struggled with one particular component, the mastery of which is essential to cranking out a “good” piece of fiction, whether it be a short story or novel.

I remember in my early writing days that I also struggled for a short period of time with P.O.V. as I developed my characters and gave them their proper place in my fiction works. Then the light bulb went on, and I figured out how to use the P.O.V. correctly.

Now don’t get me wrong. Even to this day I still slip up once in a while. However, my excellent critique group zeros in on my P.O.V. boo boos and helps me get it right. Slipping in and out of different P.O.V.s is extremely easy to do whether you’re a newbie or an experienced writer. Thus, mostly because of a request from a writer friend, I’m reviewing the proper use of P.O.V. today.

Learning to use P.O.V. effectively involves two gold nuggets of information. The first one is that, as the writer, you must put yourself in your character’s head and see everything through that character’s eyes. If you can remember that one rule of engagement, you’ll never have trouble with P.O.V. again. Jump into your story and become that character!

The second most important rule is that a writer should have only one character’s P.O.V. in a short story or per scene in a book manuscript. With kiddie lit and juvenile fiction, the story is best presented from one character’s P.O.V. through the entire book. Of course, there are always exceptions, but children want to enjoy a good story and usually “become” the main character in a short story or children’s book, so staying with one P.O.V. in children’s works, especially for younger children, is essential. With adult fiction, some best-selling authors often skillfully present up to 10 or 15 different P.O.V.s, but rarely are two P.O.V.s presented more than one in the same scene.

I’m going to give you an example of a short scene with three different main characters. The first scene uses P.O.V. incorrectly. The second example is the same scene rewritten with the proper use of P.O.V. Analyze each example and determine how the P.O.V. is used, then check out your own fiction work. Revise, revise, revise and keep working on that P.O.V.

Example One:

Sitting directly across from John, two young ladies reached for a tray of butter rolls in the center of the table. While John forked his mashed potatoes, he studied the girls in their white prayer kapps and Sunday-best dresses and the “awkward” situation that had developed. He bit his lip to suppress the urge to burst out laughing. For a moment, the gals held on to the tray as though it were glued to their hands.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sweet, kind Katrina Shoffler was the first to pull away. But I made those rolls, just for you, John! Oh, how I wish you knew how I felt about you. John smiled at Katrina as their eyes met, and she slid back into her chair. Her face with drab brown eyes and granny glasses, framed by mousy brown hair, turned bright red. She looked away from John, gave her glasses a quick poke, and nervously sipped her drink. But her kind heart and baked goods sure do make up for her plain looks, John mused as he took a bite of ham.

“I’ve got the tray,” Mandie Kauffman said as she tried to discreetly pull it from the other girl’s hand and move it toward John. I’m going to win you yet, John, if the other girls around here would just back off! Long black eyelashes fluttering, she gazed longingly at John while she brushed back a strand of loose jet-black hair and wrapped it around her ear.

 Ambitious Mandie, John thought. With her most attractive looks and urge to succeed, she just might be able to start that business she has got her eye on. And maybe she will get the husband she is after, to boot!

Crash! Right behind John, Sadie Hunsinger dropped a cup of coffee, and it shattered all over the floor.

Example Two:

Sitting directly across from John, two young ladies reached for a tray of butter rolls in the center of the table. While John forked his mashed potatoes, he studied the girls in their white prayer kapps and Sunday-best dresses and the “awkward” situation that had developed. He bit his lip to suppress the urge to burst out laughing.  For a moment, the gals held on to the tray as though it were glued to their hands.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sweet, kind Katrina Shoffler was the first to pull away. Although she had probably made the rolls, Katrina had the gentle spirit of a newborn fawn. She would never deliberately hurt another soul on God’s green earth. John knew that all too well from the time they were sweethearts in first grade at Maple Grove Mennonite School. John smiled at Katrina as their eyes met, and she slid back into her chair. Her face with drab brown eyes and granny glasses, framed by mousy brown hair, turned bright red. She looked away from John, gave her glasses a quick poke, and nervously sipped her drink. But her kind heart and baked goods sure do make up for her plain looks, John mused as he took a bite of ham.

“I’ve got the tray,” Mandie Kauffman said as she tried to discreetly pull it from the other girl’s hand and move it toward John. Long black eyelashes fluttering, she gazed longingly at John while she brushed back a strand of loose jet-black hair and wrapped it around her ear.

Ambitious Mandie, John thought. With her most attractive looks and urge to succeed, she just might be able to start that business she has got her eye on. And maybe she will get the husband she is after, to boot!

Crash! The sound of shattering glass right behind John startled him, and he turned quickly to see red-faced Sadie Hunsinger already bending down to clean up the mess she had made when she dropped her cup of coffee.

************************************************************************

If you compare both examples, you’ll see that in the first sample, we have three different P.O.V.s, not only in the same scene but sometimes in the same paragraph! Also, when the coffee cup shatters, John’s P.O.V. is incorrect. How does he know it’s Sadie who dropped her coffee cup until he turns to look at who, or what, caused the commotion? This type of dysfunctional writing only leads to reader confusion and a rejection slip from the editor to whom you’ve submitted. Nothing written this poorly would ever be published by a traditional company.

In the second sample, you see we are inside the head of John, and only John, the entire time. No one else’s thoughts should be included because we are seeing all the action through John’s eyes. When he hears the shattering glass and turns toward the sound, it is at that point that he knows that Sadie dropped her coffee cup because he is seeing what happened for the first time.

So, there you have a quickie analysis of P.O.V. I hope this helps clarify this pesky problem that many of us writers face as we work on our fiction masterpieces.

Next time, we’ll discuss character development and how to give that character of yours some “zap.”

Happy writing!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

http://www.marshahubler.com\

(More shameless promotion)

 

SOUTHERN BELLE’S SPECIAL GIFT

(KEYSTONE STABLES BOOK 3)

Foster kid Skye and her horse Champ have their hooves full

trying to help Tanya Bell, a wild foster kid, handle the loss

of a mare giving birth.

Keystone Stables Book 3

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Belles-Special-Keystone-Stables-ebook/dp/B003SE765M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455548107&sr=1-1&keywords=Southern+Belle%27s+Special+Gift

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December 28, 2015

Fiction That Wows (Part 11)

Theme Vs. Plot

Some writers, in particular newbies to the writing/publishing world, tend to confuse “theme” and “plot” when writing their short stories, novels, or series. Some writers use the terms interchangeably, which is in err.

So, what exactly are these two important entities that every clever writer uses effectively in his/her writing? How does an author incorporate the two to make a fiction piece that wows?

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines theme as: “a recurring, unifying subject or idea.” It defines plot as: “the plan of action of a play, short story, poem, or novel.”

Now, did you catch the two key words that really define “theme” and “plot?”

Very simply defined, theme = IDEA. Plot = ACTION.

When incorporating your theme, think IDEA. The theme is the philosophy, the moral background, or the religious belief behind your story. A theme is not stated with words anywhere in your writing, except possibly in your proposal to an editor. Your reader should never see a sentence in your novel that says something like this: “The theme of this novel is ‘Be sure your sin will find you out.’” The theme is a “hidden” or underlying message that the reader will sense in your writing and embrace or reject when he gets to the last page.

Let’s look at a few examples of “theme” and “plot” to clarify their definitions and role in the writing of a novel.

Examples of “Theme”:

(There are dozens, if not hundreds, of themes you can embrace. The theme will evolve from your own personal view of life)

  • Forgiveness is possible
  • The love of money is the root of all evil
  • Persistence pays off
  • Unconditional love
  • Loyalty to family and friends(Every book has a different plot; thus, there are zillions of plot ideas)
  •  Examples of “Plot:”
  • A boy and dog are separated, but the dog finds his way back to the boy.
  • A foster girl who hates everyone and herself is sent by the court to live with Christian parents who have a special needs horse ranch
  • A large book store owner forces a small book store owner out of business
  • When a man, his wife, and daughter agree to move in with an elderly woman and become her housekeepers, they discover shocking secrets from her past.
  • A woman wins twenty million dollars in the lottery but gambles it away and loses everything, even her home and car, in three months.
  • There you have a very simple sampling of what “theme” and “plot” are all about. Get a good handle on the definitions and use of these two words, and you’ll improve your writing in leaps and bounds.

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

 

SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS

 SNOW

Dallis Parker copes with bullying at school by dreaming about owning Snow, a wild Mustang, who most folks believe doesn’t even exist. Then she actually touches the horse, and her life is changed forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Phantom-Stallion-Marsha-Hubler-ebook/dp/B013GUF078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449523382&sr=1-1&keywords=Snow%2C+Phantom+Stallion+of+the+Poconos

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Fiction That Wows Your Reader (Part 2)

Fixing the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome”

 

Last time, we discussed what I call the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome,” a creative crime that so many writers find themselves committing. Even frequently published writers like myself can easily fall prey to this “beginner’s style,” which will kill any story, if we aren’t careful.

I said that I’d rewrite the small passage of poorly written dialogue in the post to show you the proper way to handle “dialogue that flows.” First, you will see the lousy dialogue as was posted last time. Then I’ll follow with the rewritten dialogue for you to analyze both:

The “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome” Dialogue

“Pete,” Mary said. “I’m going to the movies. Do you want to go with me?”

“Not tonight, Mary,” Pete said. “I have too much homework.”

“Well, Pete, how about just a game of Boggle?” Mary asked.

“Mary, I can’t even do that,” Pete said. “I’ve got too much to do.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Mary said. “You can certainly take a half hour or so to relax a little.”

“Mary, I said no! I just can’t tonight, so get lost!” Pete said. “By the way, bad joke.”

********************************************************************

Now Let’s Look at the Dialogue That Flows (after fixing the problem)

“Pete,” Mary said. “I’m going to the movies. Do you want to go with me?”

“Not tonight,” Pete said. “I have too much homework.”

“Well, how about a game of Boggle?” Mary went to the bookshelf and retrieved a game box.

Pete never shifted his gaze away from his history book. “I can’t even do that! I’ve got too much to do.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake! You can certainly take a half hour or so to relax a little.”

“I said no!” Pete had finally lost all patience with his twin sister. “I just can’t tonight. By the way, bad joke.”

FLOWING!

****************************************************************************

Now, there you have the rewritten dialogue. We cut a fistful of “Mary” and “Pete,” and we added some beats instead of using so many tags. Here are a few questions to stimulate your thinking and analysis:

What do you think makes this second excerpt so much more interesting?

What do you know from the second excerpt that you didn’t know from the first?

How did I accomplish filling in some details?

And what about those tags and beats? What in the world are those little entities?

Yep, tags and beats. They are SO essential to writing good dialogue.

Next time, we’ll discuss those tricks of the writing trade in detail. Learn to use tags and beats effectively, and your dialogue will have a spark that will simply “wow” your reader.

Marsha (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

  • Make plans now to come July 17th to the 22nd: Some faculty members include: Larry Leech, Jeanette Windle, Kathy Ide, Gayle Roper, Shirley Stevens, and a blogging/social media expert, Don Catlett

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

Keystone Stables book 6

BLUE RIBBON CHAMP

(Book 6 in the Keystone Stables Series)

Skye has a real test to love a new foster kid,

 who really likes her but rubs her the wrong way

 every time he opens his mouth.

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Ribbon-Champ-Keystone-Stables-ebook/dp/B003U6YAVG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444502868&sr=1-1&keywords=Blue+Ribbon+Champ+by+Marsha+Hubler

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April 20, 2015

Get That Novel Written!

Patti.Enjoys.Jeanette's.MM.Class.7.20.14

 One of the workshops at MCWC (2014)

Of course, it’s the dream of every writer to have a best-selling novel on the shelves of every book store in the country sometime in their writing career. And most writers have great ideas that would make super novels. But the reality is that most of us don’t have three to six months to lock ourselves up in a bedroom with our computer or get that brilliant idea down on paper in a form of the English language that can be read without an interpreter.

Here are a few suggestions for you would-be novelists to help get motivated to start and finish a manuscript that just might land you a contract with a leading publishing company. These simple steps worked for me not once, but 10 times, enabling me to publish that many juvenile fiction novels at an average of three-months writing time a piece:

  1. Analyze your time and budget it. Prioritize so that you have time to write “regularly.” Yes, I know it’s impossible to write every day, but if you have this at the top of your priority list, you’ll get it done more often than if you just haphazardly decide, “Oh, it’s Monday. I have two extra hours today. I think I’ll write.” Your novel will never happen this way.
  2. Write a short outline or synopsis of where you’re going with your story and characters. I know of authors who have written their same novel over and over, sometimes hundreds and hundreds of pages in length, and to this day they still haven’t finished it because they’ve never resolved the ending. Their characters seem to be lost forever in some kind of word time warp, never to “live happily ever after.”
  3. Don’t worry about perfect English the first time you write. Just get your brilliant idea down on paper. Worry about the PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, spelling) later.
  4. Let your finished manuscript sit a few weeks then get back to it. You’ll read parts of it and wonder who in the world wrote that junk? This is a great time to start revising. Go through each scene with a fine-toothed comb, making sure your characters move the plot and/or subplot forward.
  5. When you finish revising your manuscript, print the entire thing on paper, read it aloud, and get it into the hands of a critique group or other writers who will tell you the truth. Aunt Susie or Brother Bill will only tell you how wonderful you are, but that won’t get your manuscript ready for a trip to the editor’s desk at the publishing house.
  6. While you’re revising again and perfecting your work, send out your queries, at least five at a time. It might take up to three or four months for you to get a response from the editors (if at all). In that framework of time, you can hone your manuscript and shape it into something that any editor would want.

So there you have it. Get the computer turned on, get your brain tuned in, and get going. You just might be the next great American novelist!

*************************************************************************

Want a professional opinion of your work-in-progress (WIP)?

Come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference and meet editors and an agent

who just might want your manuscript!

July 19th-24th

Beth, Tim, and Ed (Regulars at MCWC) with faculty member, Cindy Sproles (2013)

Beth, Tim, and Ed (Regulars at MCWC) with faculty member, Cindy Sproles (2013)

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December 15, 2014

Twelve Common Mistakes Found in Fiction Manuscripts

Mistake Number Eleven: The Lack of Sensory Detail

 22.Hubler.FrontDoorChristmas

This is the eleventh blog discussing some common mistakes found in fiction manuscripts from early readers and chapter books to adult novels of various subgenres. Several weeks ago, we started this list and will continue until we’ve done all of what I believe are the most important common mistakes. Today we’ll look at “The Lack of Sensory Detail,” a fiction mistake common with most beginners and takes some experience and skill to develop.

Too much description and narration

Switching viewpoints in the same scene

A negative tone throughout the story

Infallible or underdeveloped characters

Stilted or unnatural dialogue

No significant conflict

Weak transitions between paragraphs

Impossible resolutions

Redundancy

Passive verbs instead of active verbs

Lack of sensory detail

Lack of emotion or action

Baker’s Dozen: (Telling instead of showing)

The Lack of Sensory Detail

Perhaps you’ve heard this statement about some of your writing or about someone else’s poor example flashed across the Power Point screen at a writers’ conference: “This writing is FLAT!” If that’s the case, then that writing is lacking sensory detail. Excellent is the writing that places the reader right in the middle of the action, feeling as if he/she is actually that main character and experiencing a wealth of sensory perks.

If you analyze weak fiction writing, you’ll discover the authors have majored on only one of our human senses: sight, even when the other senses could easily be incorporated. Also, the “sight” sense might be presented so weakly with hardly any description, we then have very lazy writing. However, as writers mature and learn from experience, they’ll start to incorporate as many of the other senses as possible: hearing, smell, taste, and touch. With the addition of just a few more sentences or two, the writer can make his/her fiction jump off the page!

As usual, let’s analyze a few examples to prove my point. Take note of what senses are used in each example, either too sparingly or with skill to make the passage come alive.

Example One:

Flat Writing-

“I’ve had it, Bill!” Joan threw on her raincoat and rushed out of the house in anger, forgetting her umbrella. She ran to the car parked in the driveway, and when she tried to open the door, she remembered she left her keys in the kitchen. With the rain and sleet pelting down, she felt soaked to the bone from head to toe. When she ran back toward the house, she slipped and fell on the wet pavement.

“That’s what I get for leaving in a huff!” she grumbled to herself. She picked herself up and trudged back into the house, determined to apologize.

Incorporating Sensory Detail

“I’ve had it, Bill!” Joan threw on her Sag Harbor black raincoat and rushed out of the house in anger, forgetting her umbrella. A mix of rain and sleet pelted down, instantly coating her long, blonde hair—her entire body—with a frigid chill. Still reeling from her fight with Bill, she took in several jagged breaths, the fresh, cold scent of an early spring shower filling her lungs. She paused a moment, gazing at her car in the driveway…debating whether she should get her umbrella or not.

“Oh, why bother?” she said. “I’m already soaked from head to toe.”

She ran to the car, and when she tried to open the door, she remembered she left her keys lying on the counter in the kitchen. As she ran toward the house, her high heels slipped on the icy pavement, and down she went with a hard smack on her backside.

“That’s what I get for leaving in a huff!” she grumbled. She gently picked herself up and edged her way back into the house, determined to eat humble pie.

Example Two:

Flat Writing-

Scrubbing a cooking pot at her sink, Louellen stared out her window. Snow was falling in her back yard. Her gaze shifted a short distance beyond the barn to her son John and his wife Katrina’s home. “I pray the ham will be tender as Alvira Kauffman promised. It sure smells good.”

Incorporating Sensory Detail-

“Katrina, just look at that snow! I pray everyone can make it to our Christmas dinner.” Scrubbing a cooking pot at her sink, Louellen stared out her window.  Snow was falling in buckets against the backdrop of her spacious back yard with two towering naked maple trees, the big red barn, and acres of dormant fields all shrouded in white. Her gaze shifted a short distance beyond the barn and paddock to where her son John and his wife Katrina’s home and barn were barely visible in the curtain of falling snow. She took a deep breath, the mouth-watering aroma of a baking ham infiltrating her senses. “And I pray the ham will be as tender as Alvira Kauffman promised. It sure smells good.”

Example Three:

Flat Writing-

The riders lined up their horses and looked at the waterfalls a bunch of yards away. Above their heads was water over some rocks. It tumbled on more rocks that were even with the riders. The water made big white splashes and then was smooth. The waterfall droplets and sunlight made a rainbow, and off to one side a little stream flowed down the mountain. A breeze made the waterfall mist fly everywhere, hitting the riders in the face. Skye was amazed.

Incorporating Sensory Detail-

 Lining up their horses, the riders sat gawking at nature’s water show half a football field away. Far above their heads, the falls flooded over a table of rocks arrayed on both sides by the greenest trees Skye had ever seen.

The water thundered as it crashed down over more layers of rocks, tumbling, tumbling, until it splashed onto large boulders level with the riders. There, billows of white foam faded into ripples that quickly smoothed into a serene pool as clear as glass.

A rainbow arched in a stream of sunlight. Off to one side the pool overflowed, forming the gushing stream that had found its way down the mountain to form Lackawanna Lake. Fed by the falls, a steady breeze and fine mist saturated the cool air around the riders, welcoming them to the secret and special place.

So, what do you think you can add to your manuscript to make it jump off the page and come alive for your readers? Think through the five senses, and don’t just rely on sight all the time.

Next time we’ll take a look at Mistake Number Twelve: Lack of Emotion or Action

Happy writing!

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December 1, 2014

Twelve Common Mistakes Found in Fiction Manuscripts

Mistake Number Nine: Redundancy

 

This is the ninth blog discussing some common mistakes found in fiction manuscripts from early readers and chapter books to adult novels of various subgenres. Several weeks ago, we started this list and will continue until we’ve done all of what I believe are the most important common mistakes. Today we’ll look at “Redundancy,” one of the easiest fiction writing traps into which we authors can fall.

Too much description and narration

Switching viewpoints in the same scene

A negative tone throughout the story

Infallible or underdeveloped characters

Stilted or unnatural dialogue

No significant conflict

Weak transitions between paragraphs

Impossible resolutions

Redundancy

Passive verbs instead of active verbs

Lack of sensory detail

Lack of emotion or action

Baker’s Dozen: (Telling instead of showing)

Let’s define redundancy. Encarta’s Dictionary in my WORD processing program tells us it’s “the use of a word or words whose meaning is already conveyed elsewhere in a passage, without a rhetorical purpose.” In other words, it means using the same words or thoughts repeatedly when not necessary. (I just gave you an example of redundancy.)

This fiction flaw is one of the easiest for an author, including myself, to abuse and not even realize it. Therefore, it behooves us to constantly edit our work, to look for redundant words or phrases, and to rewrite those sore spots in the manuscript.

As per my style, the best way to tell you about Fiction Mistake Number Nine is to show you what not to write and how to fix the problem. (Remember “Show not Tell”?) So let’s review six examples of lousy writing with redundancy to the hilt and how to rewrite each properly:

Example One:  At twelve p.m. noon, Jerry left on his trip.

Fixed : At noon, Jerry left on his trip. (Yes, twelve p.m. and noon are the same time.)

Believe it or not, one of these redundant phrases slipped through in one of my published books!

Example Two:   Rob is a person who is honest and makes it a practice never to lie.

Fixed:   Rob is an honest person. /OR/ Rob makes it a practice never to lie. (If Rob’s honest, he’s not a liar.)

Example Three:  Marcy rode her horse in a circle around the show ring.

Fixed:   Marcy rode her horse in a circle in the show ring. (“Circle” and “around” indicate the same action.)

Example Four:  Sadly, Third World countries often have many uneducated citizens, who’ve never attended school.

Fixed:  Sadly, Third World countries often have many uneducated citizens. /OR/ Sadly, Third World countries often have many citizens who’ve never attended school. (If they’re uneducated, they haven’t been to school.)

Example Five:  Jerry insisted that he saw the accident with his own eyes!

Fixed:  Jerry insisted that he saw the accident! (Could he have seen it with his ears?)

Example Six:  Billy’s mother watched as her little toddler counted a total of ten pennies.

Fixed:  Billy’s mother watched her toddler count ten pennies. (Let’s get rid of “as” first. Then ask yourself the question, “How many toddlers do you know who are big?” Delete “little.” And last, we don’t need “total of”.)

Now, we could go on and on, and on and on, and make a list a mile long of common redundant, reused words and errors, but by now, you’ve probably gotten the point. (Did you see any redundancy in my last sentence?) Yes, it’s quite easy to fill your manuscript with redundant words and phrases without blinking an eye. But once you get a handle on how tricky redundancy is, you’ll be able to rewrite your work and find that publisher who wants it much faster.

Next time, we’ll look at my Pet Peeve of all the errors—Mistake Number Ten: Passive Verbs instead of Active Verbs.

Happy writing!

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