Read This First!
McIntyre’s First Law:
Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you could be wrong.
Pitfall #9: Department of Redundancy Department,
Department of Redundancy Department
Samuel R. Delany’s technique for determining whether a phrase is redundant (if you have any question): choose one of the words you suspect of being redundant. Switch it to its antonym. If the resulting construction is inherently ridiculous, an oxymoron, you have redundancy. For example, a “large giant.” As opposed to a small giant? Other common speech-habit redundancies include rich heiresses and consensus of opinion.
Hyperbole is a fine and respected literary tradition, and speech habits are indispensable for creating characters. (Think of Stephen Maturin’s charming habit of saying “little small.”)
But when you use these techniques, be sure you know you’re doing it — and why.
I blog here every Sunday, and irregularly otherwise as the spirit takes me.
My novel Dreamsnake is now available at Book View Cafe, serialized by the chapter on Sundays. You may buy the complete ebook for $4.99. (Current formats: Mobipocket/Palm, html, PDF).
At Book View Cafe you can also find The Moon and the Sun, as well as the faux-encyclopedia article, “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” that inspired it.
Recently added: “The Adventure of the Field Theorems,” a Sherlock Holmes scientific romance, in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hires Mr Sherlock Holmes to investigate crop circles, and Dr Watson demonstrates to Holmes the benefits of astronomy.
For signed hardcovers of The Moon and the Sun and my other SF novels, visit my website’s Basement Full of Books.