Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Does She - Or Doesn't She?

L'Heure de Musique,
Edouard Toudouze ( 1848-1907)
oil on panel.

For some reason, I have a feeling the sitter in this painting can't carry a tune in a washtub.

We usually define refundancy with examples such as refer/return back, the two twins, and the like; but the term may apply to more complicated excesses.

Specific examples are more useful to show insidious redundancy (or not) that the mere tell rule to avoid excess.

Another example from Malignity seems similar to the discussion yesterday.

The action in question is also of the look/see variety: ...peered through one of the narrow side lights to see what was afoot. My critic is of the opinion that if she peers, after a thump on the door, her intention - to see what was afoot - is obvious and therefore redundant.

While, again, he is technically correct; in this example, I am more likely to plead style as an excuse. A question of mischief or game, vide Shakespeare.

He did not, thankfully, suggest that if she heard a knock on the door, her subsequent actions were also redundant, because she would automatically go look.

I would have his guts for garters if he had.

Because she might have hid in a closet, run out the back door, or lie giggling on the hall floor with a wine glass in one hand, a decanter in the other, kicking her heels against the foot plate every time a knock was repeated.

Then we part company.

In the para: Pour a drink into me and my mouth runneth over - which is why I avoid alcohol most of the time. He claims the explanation is redundant.

Nonononono. Not.

Two separate facts.Her avoidance of alcohol is not implicit in the statement concerning her reaction to alcohol. She might well enjoy the freedom to babble, the loss of discretion. Readers do not know whether she is a habitual, alcoholic-haze-smartass or usually abstemious - unless the point is made.

His fourth claim of redundancy involves Dumbarton.

He suggests the comment, To decorate the driver's door I had no doubt, if he hadn't already, is redundant - because that's what doggies do.

I beg your pardon.

Dumbarton is a Doom Dog, a spectral Hound out of myth and legend, sized for this story. How can a reader assume he will act in a conventional canine manner unless the narrator says so?

NonononoNO. Not redundant.

Score: one and one-half out of four.

There's a difference between writing tight and constricting blood vessels to the point there's none left in the body of the work.

How would you read it?


Gabriele C. said...

Lol, that guy sounds like the one who gave me the first crit I ever got.

Luckily I don't take smartass wannabees any serious, so I continued writing.

Robyn said...

No offense, but your critic needs to learn how to just enjoy a story. Sheesh.

December Quinn said...

None of today's examples are redundant. Sounds to me like the crit got a bee in his bonnet and went overboard.

Did I tell you about the crit I got where they objected to my giving the hero a guest house instead of a series of cabanas? For no reason I could discern? And also took issue with my description of a room as professionally and expensively decorated (after sketching some of the furniture) because the stuff didn't sound expensive? I thought leather and mahogany told the reader something, personally, I wasn't really sure how much farther I was supposed to go in my description.

We take what is useful and leave the rest.

Jaye Wells said...

The critique has become redundant.

Sam said...

Sometimes explanations are needed, other times not. In none of these cases did it strike me unnecessary to add the small comment, as it is from what I'd call a deep 1st person POV. The thoughts of the narrator are clearly visible to the reader, because they are what's running through her head.

Sonya said...

Whoa there, Captain Redundant! (Not you, Bernita -- the other guy!)

By strange coincidence, I happen to be listening to a song with lyrics that go, in part:

Over and over and over and over and over...

The song is "Over" by Evans Blue. Redundant? Yeah, but I like it. :-)

Bernita said...

I'm fairly certain, Gabriele, that this particular critic wasn't trying to be a smartass and just wanted to help.

Sometimes the whole is greater than the parts, Robyn.

December, I wonder if that was the case.
Cabanas? A decidedly narrow perspective.
Seems to me if you went into further detail then you would be guilty of excess and redundancy.

Seeing enemies of writing at every turn, Jaye.

That doesn't totally excuse any redundancy, Sam, but the pov is another point to consider. Happy you did not see redundancy here.

Don't see that as redundant, Sonya, but as an intentional repetition for effect.

JLB said...

I'm leaning toward your assessment Bernita. As in the example of the "Pour a drink..." segment, the writing provides two different kinds of information, neither of which would cover the breadth of information given if the two pieces were left to stand alone without the other.

I think that's where my reference to the use of style or artistic cadence can be confused with the technicalities of writing. Perhaps your editor may be pushing the perfectly logical agenda of writing technicalities, but based in a formula of personal stylistic preference?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Okay now I draw the line...whoever HE is, has got to get over being anal retentive and leave your work alone, before all we have left is HIS voice.


kmfrontain said...

LOL, Bonnie. I have nothing left to say.

Anonymous said...

Bernita, I agree with you on today's post. Doesn't appear redundant to me. Folks, lighten up on the crit. Bernita, I assume you have some respect for him or you wouldn't be asking for the views of others. If you discarded what he had to say, it wouldn't be a post. Or did I get it completely wrong?

Bernita said...

Not "my editor", JLB, another writer.
I would never argue with my book editor over edits on an open blog.

One does suspect a certain wood-for-the-trees mind-set.
Nevertheless, I simply cannot see how several of the instances can be construed, by definition, as redundant, or even plump, based on the reasoning given by my critic.

You think it's a case of clone disease, Bonnie?
Unless everyone writes like he does, it invalidates his style?

I should reiterate that my critic was polite and not an asshole in his comments.

Bernita said...

May be too harsh though.

Thank you, Steve.
Quite right,I don't pretend to know it all and one can be oblivious to one's own faults, quite frequently.
An even more subtle problem that applies -particularly to technique - is uneven balance. Is a minor violation outweighed by a larger issues?
I thought the whole subject might have several interesting angles.

raine said...

At the risk of being redundant, as I said yesterday--

Are readers really so discriminating?

None of these would set off alarms for me in my reading, sorry.

Bernita said...

Some writers are quite discriminating, Raine, it seems, else I wouldn't have been informed of my predeliction for redundancy in composition.

Erik Ivan James said...

I find it interesting that, as I've followed this along, I never once noticed or tripped over any of the points raised by your "crit". I've only noticed the points since you have posted them here. I still haven't tripped. But then, I just enjoy telling and reading good stories, not red-inking them.

Bernita said...

Glad you didn't trip, Erik!
I may write parly by the seat of my pants, but I certainly don't revise that way.
And I do think if someone is going to toss a stone, as in December's examples, they should be capable of providing a valid reason for doing so.

Frank Baron said...

I was gonna make some smart-assed comment about redundancy but that would be clever-buttocked of me and therefore, unworthy.

Bernita said...

Feel free, Frank - be aware though you might have it handed to you...

Bernita said...

Thank you all very much for your comments on these two posts. Especially for the analysis of the (sometimes subtle) factors that determine if something is "redundant." Or not.

M.E Ellis said...

Pour a drink into me and my mouth runneth over - which is why I avoid alcohol most of the time.

Without the second part, I got the image, and assumed a drink was poured into her mouth and it spilled out.

With the inclusion of the second part, it brings a whole new meaning. That if she drinks alcohol, she's likely to say things she may regret or that she wouldn't usually say if she hadn't had alcohol in her.

Also, the second part lets us know it's alcohol she's drinking. Otherwise it could be orange juice or any liquid at all (basing that on this line shown, I haven't read it as a whole piece so am unaware whether alcohol was mentioned prior to this line). I liked the second part of this sentence very much. It brings much more to mind than what is actually said, is layered, and we can draw on our own times of being drunk and saying things we shouldn't just from those 10 words. THAT is a good author, IMO, to bring many images with little wording, without actually writing out those many images for me and making me feel as though Author thought I was dense and couldn't possibly 'see' it for myself.

And, d'you know, I've finished a book by a very well known author today and skipped 2 pages at a time on several occasions because he wrote 2 pages about one thing when I got the gist of what he'd said in 2 sentences. I carried on reading without missing anything at all from those unread pages. Not good.


Bernita said...

Thank you, Michelle.
It is port, btw, and she's just made a somewhat giddy and supercillious comment, considering the circumstances.
I hope it says several things indirectly about her character.

M.E Ellis said...

From that line I'd imagine she was usually considerate of how she words things.

Port. Yum.


Bernita said...

She's usually cautious, yes.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see December Quinn/Stacia Kane comment on an old post here, seeing as the framework for the Downside series is almost identical to Bernita's in Dark and Disorderly.