Redundancy – why you should avoid it

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a Seth Godin post about redundancy in writing…

I’ve long appreciated the pithiness of Seth Godin‘s thinking and writing.

In a recent post, he addresses what he calls “unnecessary amplifiers.” For example, you might write:

I’m very upset

When what you really mean is:

I’m upset.

Which phrase is more powerful? I agree with Seth Godin that the latter one carries more impact.

While I like the elegance of Godin’s phrase “unnecessary amplifiers,” those of us who are professional writers tend to use another one: redundancy. (You don’t need a very in front of upset, so it’s redundant.)

Of course, not all redundancy is bad. For example, you might choose to repeat words or ideas for emphasis. But being redundant without realizing it, or without having a good reason for it, is often the sign of an amateur writer.

Here’s why you should try to avoid being redundant:

  1. Clarity: Redundancy can obscure the intended meaning of a sentence or passage, making it more difficult for readers to understand the point you’re trying to make.
  2. Brevity: Redundancy usually makes writing unnecessarily long and cumbersome, causing readers to lose interest.
  3. Style: Redundancy can make writing seem amateurish and unpolished, detracting from the overall quality of the work.
  4. Credibility: Redundancy can make you seem unprofessional or careless, damaging your credibility as a writer.
  5. Engagement: Redundancy can bore readers and make them less engaged, decreasing the likelihood that they will continue reading or take action based on the content.

By avoiding redundancy, writers can create more effective and engaging content that effectively communicates their message in a clear and concise manner.

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