Mary Deal Tells Us About Paragraph Redundancy

Paragraph Redundancy


Mary Deal

Last summer I read a book, rather, started to read a book, and ended up donating it to a used book store. The problem was in the way the story was written.

The title of the book here or character names will change for the sake of this article. I do not like to specifically point out negativities toward a certain author. Who knows? Maybe that author was a great writer but had a terrible editor. In any case, certain errors should be noted to bring attention to a bad habit many writers must overcome.

The problem I found in this book right away was that several paragraphs in a row started something like:

Rory got in his car and sped away.

Rory found her in the second row.

Rory was about to make it clear….

Rory was angry that….

Four paragraphs in a row started off with the man’s name. It’s not very descriptive and certainly boring, disrupts the flow of the story and makes it seem juvenile. Not good for an adult plot.

These same errors repeated in several more chapters, some using other character’s names.  I flipped through the pages and saw many instances.

This type writing is not developed nor descriptive and doesn’t show action. It’s the narrator telling what a viewer might see moment by moment and that’s not what makes for excitement to keep the story flowing smoothly and quickly.

Rory got into his car and sped away could better be written as: The car’s interior was hot from sitting in the heat of the glaring afternoon sun. Rory climbed in but never felt the hot seat and searing steering wheel. He was angry.

Rory found her in the second row could better be written as: The theatre was full to capacity. She always sat down front. Rory found her in the second row.

Rory was about to make it clear… could be built up like this: Karen was going to be surprised when she saw him. He motioned sharply to her from the aisle and she bolted upright in her seat. She’d have to come with him. He was going to make it clear….

Rory was angry that…. does not need to be stated in the story because we see his anger in his actions and how he approaches Karen.

Paragraph redundancy happens when straight forward telling by the story narrator occurs. This narrator had not felt anything that was going on in the story; had not been able to “be” the characters, and couldn’t let the characters write the story themselves because the narrator couldn’t get into the minds of the characters.

When re-reading your prose to see how it sounds, also look to see how it appears on the page. Some redundancies also occur with the use of “I” when writing in first person. Any word or name can be repeated too many times, but lacks polish when used to start more than two paragraphs in succession.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

About Mike Angley

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy. He retired as a Colonel from the Air Force in 2007 following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). He held 13 different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Air Force Squadrons and a Wing. He is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. In his last assignment, he was Commander of OSI Region 8 with responsibility for all of Air Force Space Command. He’s fond of saying, “If it entered or exited Earth’s atmosphere, I had a dog in the fight!”
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