Thursday, 10 October 2013

Tautology

I have learnt a new word! Somehow it has been nestled in my blind spot, although luckily the concept hasn’t avoided me.

It refers to saying the same thing twice but with different words. It reiterates an idea which you’ve just explained... see what I did? And it does so without adding anything more to the point or force.

You’ll wanna avoid tautology. Make sure that every sentence – every word – adds to the description or point. If it doesn’t add, then you don’t need it. Remove it from your paragraph and either replace it with something that brings the piece to life or keep the space free so that the pace can increase.

Sometimes this can relate to modifiers. For example, ‘he sprinted quickly’ has a sense of tautology to it. You don’t need to say both ‘sprinted’ and ‘quickly’. It’s superfluous description (another great word). The raw, basic form of the sentence is much stronger that the one with that extra word of description, although it’s not always felt immediately.

That’s not to say you can’t use repetition to really enforce an idea. Just do it knowingly (and in a way which critics don’t catch you out).

It links in with ‘show don’t tell’ which I’ll be pulling apart soon, which is a phrase much overused and not always understood or relevant. More on that later.

For more on this, take a quick look at: http://grammar.about.com/od/tz/g/tautolterm.htm