1. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    Sweden

    Redundant Writing

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Stammis, Jul 9, 2017.

    I've been struggling about the way I write. You see, I use words like, "soon, until, moved, looked" and so on to describe action. But to me, it seems (for the lack of a better word) redundant. It's as if I'm taking the reader from scene to scene rather than giving them an experience... Am I making sense? I feel like I don't...

    Anyway, I've been experimenting and I would like to read your impressions of these two versions of the text. It's in the middle of the story so I'm sorry if it seems out of context:

    (1) Staring wide eyed around the room, Tom’s thoughts swirled upon awakening. Panicked, his eyes landed on a shelf of strange bottles on the wall. He was still in Hephron’s office, he realised. The knowledge calmed him, letting his body fall back on the cushions of the sofa he’d been sleeping on. Though peace had reached him, a memory touched his awareness. It flashed indistinguishably and vanished as soon as it came. But even though he knew naught what he saw, his body did, shuddering uncontrollably through the experience.


    (2) Dashing to awareness, Tom stared around the room. Thoughts swirled in his mind as he realised he was still in Hephron office. He sat up from the sofa, trying to collect himself. Memories flashed in his mind, coming and going, forcing shudders without knowing why.

    His body knew, somehow.

    -

    I realise they are two completely different styles of writing, even so, the first version is the experiment and I would very much appreciate what you think.
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    3,858
    Location:
    SC, USA
    The first version is the experiment? I find the second much more engaging and less padded.
     
  3. Earp

    Earp Copy That Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    Messages:
    2,170
    Likes Received:
    4,967
    Location:
    Raccoon City
    I much prefer the second, but it's a matter of personal style, I guess.
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,495
    Likes Received:
    12,792
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Number two for sure... it's more concise and adherent to the action.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,345
    Likes Received:
    13,069
    They both feel fairly distant--we seem to be outside Tom observing him, rather than being him. I realize that that may not make sense, because we're seeing his thoughts. But all the same, we seem to be observing his thoughts, not having them.

    However, I agree that (2) is more engaging. What is your goal with (1)? You seem to be changing several things at once; the discussion might be clearer if you changed only one variable at a time.
     
    Catrin Lewis, Stammis and xanadu like this.
  6. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    105
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm intrigued by the strange bottles on the wall. However, I would prefer a description demonstrating the strangeness, rather than telling me. I suppose you are using the bottles so Tom will recognize the room. Since the bottles peak my interest, I think there's an opportunity to use them for further setting development. Is this a room for a bottle collector, or a room of someone much darker? The bottles could be a clue. The third sentence in the first example shows a bit of redundancy because the sentence, "He was still in Hephron's office," doesn't need, "he realised." You intrigued me again with Tom's memory and how it affects him.

    Although the first example needs a little work, I like it more because it feels mysterious.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
    Stammis likes this.
  7. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    2,398
    Likes Received:
    2,019
    It's not really a question of redundancy it's just a question of what tone and what pace you want. Spending more time describing what the guy sees as he looks around and how he's panicking and so forth is fine, it builds up the tone of the scene and slowing down the pace and taking more words implies the importance of what's going on and ensure the reader takes note of it.

    If you spend say four paragraphs describing how someone's crying; how their shoulders shake, showing their nose is running, that they can't take a breath, their biting their lip but they just can't stop; then that really empathizes how upset they are and the mood become very sad because that moment become very big in the readers mind. Just by giving it more space on the page you put the focus there without having to harp on it. So it's not bad to spend time on details, to reiterate a point. That's not redundancy, that's just building a scene.

    Something is only redundant if you've already gotten the message over and you're still hammering on the same point when you need to be moving on. When a detail or a feeling or a moment matters then you should take the time to focus on it and give it the space that it needs to be really effecting, to get the real response from the reader. You shouldn't spend more space than you need but you should spend the space that you need. It's not redundant to make sure that these details really sink in.
     
    PsychicWitness and jannert like this.
  8. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    Sweden
    I do write distantly. Even though it's through the characters eyes (mostly) and their thoughts, I write it as if it is a narrator telling the story. This is a conscious decision, however, or rather, what comes naturally to me. Is this a problem, do you think? Dismissing the rules of writing, does it take away from the experience in any way?

    The goal with the first experiment is to make it the text transition from thought to action more fluently. Instead of saying, now he looked, now he rose to his legs, he pressed his hands against his template. I'm never satisfied when I write my stories this way but I don't know any other way to do it. It's like I'm writing a play not a novel... Not making any sense again, am I?
     
  9. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    Sweden
    There is some very interesting input on this thread and I thank all of you for it!

    Most seem to prefer the second option, but it is a matter of style (as Earp pointed out) and what story sort of story I'm writing.

    It's as they say, you never learn how to write stories, you only learn how to write the story you're working on.
     
  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    I personally don't enjoy distant POVs, and omniscient least of all. Deep POV is pretty ubiquitous these days in all genres except SFF, and fantasy is going that way.

    You are. I often give this feedback when beta reading: With a screenplay, the writer supplies the dialogue, setting, and some action, and the actors provide the emotion. In a novel, the writer needs to provide all of those things, including the emotion. Distant POVs often read like screenplays to me, and reading something meant to be watched is not generally a pleasurable experience (ask 99% of schoolkids forced to read Shakespeare plays).
     
    jannert likes this.
  11. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    Sweden
    I didn't realise my writing method was this contemporary. My greatest inspiration as a writer comes from Conn Iggulden, if you who he is.
     
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    It's the opposite - distant POV has been out of fashion for a long time, with deep POV being contemporary. :)
     
  13. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    139
    Location:
    Sweden
    I googled deep POV, I thought I was writing it, considering I write through the eyes and thoughts of the characters. I never write anything that the characters don't already know.
     
  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    Writing only what your characters know is limited POV, which can be distant or deep. The depth is more about filtering. Both your examples above are distant, not deep.
     
    GuardianWynn likes this.
  15. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    528
    Deep POV can be a tricky bug to catch. I like to think of it as diving into someone's head rather than dipping my toes in. Your examples feel like I'm dipping my toes in: I'm told what he's thinking rather than reading it directly. "Showing" his thoughts, whether in the form of narration or directly in first person, can really help put a story in deep POV. Some telling is necessary, and it can be difficult to find the right balance for a particular story, but once you find that balance it can be a lot of fun to read and write.

    On the other hand there's nothing wrong with limited third person or omniscient, but they can be even trickier to get right, especially for the modern reader.
     
  16. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    775
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    #2 is better. It says the same thing as #1. The only thing I see really missing is the bottles. I suppose the cushions too? That's sort of an implied detail though and doesn't really add anything. (Well, it could . . . if you really wanted it to.)

    My problem is that the actions bounce back and forth.
    Thinking, Tom, room.
    Thinking, Tom, office.
    Tom sat, thinking.
    Thinking, shudders.

    I suppose that could be a device of sorts, but I'd just start with one area and progress through them.
    Thinking, Tom, office, shudders.

    Tom's thoughts swirled like <metaphor>. The haze <visual descriptive> congealed into Hephron's office. <describe office, setting the tone/detail>. Tom lifted himself from Hephon's couch, his cheek peeling away stickily from the vinyl. Without knowing why, he shuddered.​

    Watch out for the many present participle phrases in close proximity (dashing, trying, coming, forcing). Kill 'realised' and just say what he realised directly.

    I think I get what you're going for, and I think it's a good plan. Deep POV relies on sensory detail. I'm kind of like you, I prefer some narrative distance. When I read my favorite authors, they're never living completely behind the MC's eyes. I usually try for that tiny step back too.
     
    Stammis likes this.
  17. AdiraAugust

    AdiraAugust New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    8
    I'd have to disagree. JK Rowling wrote a pretty popular series not too long ago in 3rd omniscient ("distant"). A lot of writers use various POVs in a novel-length work. I wouldn't consider deep contemporary, as few people do it well in any POV, so it's really not that common.

    What's always in fashion, I think, is writing that works. Taking the op, I have no idea how anyone "dashes to awareness." But I do know what it looks like (and feels like) when someone "bolts upright." Is one better than the other? Not so much better, as one works for me as a reader and the other just makes me stop reading and go "huh?"
     
  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    HP was actually 95% 3rd limited, the other 5% being the first chapters of some of the novels and one or two 'panning' sentences at the beginning of other chapters.

    I'm not sure what else you've been reading but deep POV really is the most common across contemporary literature.
     
    BayView and ChickenFreak like this.
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,345
    Likes Received:
    13,069
    Just chiming in to agree. I must surely have read something in distant third or omniscient written in the past decade, but aside from the occasional short scene, such as the ones in Harry Potter, I can't think of any examples.
     
    BayView likes this.
  20. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    17,385
    Likes Received:
    26,225
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I have once and it was very brief recently, in the book
    I am currently reading. Though it has only happened
    in a few short paragraphs at a transition. Other than
    that it has been your standard 3rd POV from what I
    have seen.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice