Redundant Words

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by Paul

Stephen King, in his King’s excellent book On Writing, provides some is crammed with valuable, albeit not particularly original advice, delivered with the ease of a first-rate storyteller. that many other How-to books for writers also provide: namely : He recalls a formula he was given at High School: “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%.” after finishing the first complete draft of a manuscript, the writer should work through it and try to reduce the number of words by 10%. and As King acknowledges this in the his Second Foreword to his book, Strunk and White’s seventeenth rule (The Elements of Style) is “Omit needless words.” What King manages to tie this process in with, though, It’s not startlingly original – and many writers would aim for more than 10% on every draft – but that doesn’t make it any less true. Nine years after reading his book, I’m still quoting it.

But more
More importantly, it’s those aspects his examination of bad writing he highlights – the use of adverbs (particularly with dialogue attribution), the passive voice, and redundant words – which has helped to train the editor in my head, whether I’m revising my own work or reading someone else’s. It’s because his words have prompted me to interrogate every adverb and to eliminate the passive for the active wherever I find it, that I so often (need to) pare my writing words down by that 10%. In many ways, such advice helps me to find and define the voice I write with. and have urges writers to be In my mind, this advice has become associated with other remarks he makes earlier in the book, in terms of about hunting out adverbs and the passive voice.

It also explains why first drafts can be such a mess.

Regardless of whether you are you’re a fan of Stephen King’s fiction or not, On Writing remains a valuable text for writers, as well as anyone interested in writing.


Jane Turley said...

Paul, will you please pass me these tips privately:)))

Michael J. Kannengieser said...

You've hit the nail on the head. I've been submitting op-ed pieces to my local newspaper, and their limit is 500 words. Now I know that I am way too wordy in my writing. There's a lot I could cut just from this comment; most likely this particular, superfluous sentence. I enjoyed this article. -Mike.

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gary davison said...

Yip, I read Mr King's book a good while back, and though I can't get away with his actual writing, I loved this book, and his approach to writing. No nonsense, just get on with it and do it sparingly. And other tips of course!