Dun Writin’—Now Whut? A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing – (01 Introduction)

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Hello all you fans of The Story Reading Ape! Chris has invited me to host a weekly series on his blog: Dun Writin’—Now Whut?  (Just for the record and in all fairness to Susan, it was ME who wanted a snazzy title and much as it pained Susan’s Editorial heart and soul, I finally wore her down with suggested titles until she capitulated and agreed to this one TSRA)

For the first post, he asked me to introduce myself.

I’m a freelance copy editor living in upstate New York near the Adirondacks. I’ve been writing and editing for over thirty years, and freelancing for two years. I work almost exclusively with independent authors. A few submit their manuscripts to agents and publishers, but by the time they come to me, most have decided to self-publish.

So what are we going to talk about in this series? Chris and I are of the same mind when it comes to offering information to writers—we want you to learn how to be a good author. So I’ll be sharing wisdom on

  • Self-editing

  • Revising

  • English usage tips

  • Helpful resources

  • Hiring professionals

  • Creative writing skills

We might even incorporate some publishing, marketing, and author platform information. Because—if you haven’t figured this out already—writing the book is only half the battle! The other half is getting it published and then selling it. There’s many steps to incorporate in “Dun Writin’—Now Whut?”

Today we’re going to look at redundancies in writing. Writers can be so concerned about expressing themselves that they write it more than once, in different ways, to get the point across. These quick, off-the-cuff examples don’t represent great writing, but they’re based on actual editing customers’ writing. Can you spot the redundancies? Some are subtle.

  1. The dragon breathed in and out angrily, then shot out fire that swallowed up everything in sight – all of it.

  2. The tears ran down her cheeks, falling on the note. She sobbed. Would she ever see him again in her lifetime?

  3. The soldier ran his sword through his opponent. He pierced the man’s heart with his weapon. He killed him without hesitation.

In number one, the phrase “swallowed up everything” is pretty all encompassing, wouldn’t you say? So “in sight” and “all of it” are unnecessary.

In number two, what happens when you sob? Don’t tears run down your cheeks? Also, how else do tears run? Do tears ever run up your face? Gravity doesn’t work that way. These first two sentences might be rewritten this way: “She sobbed over the note” or “Her tears smudged the note’s writing.”

There’s also a very subtle redundancy in the question in number two. The words “ever,” “again,” and “lifetime” all point to the same circumstance, and two of the three can be deleted and the sentence reworked.

Number three is a clump of short sentences, each giving different details of the account. They could easily be wrangled into one smooth sentence, such as, “The soldier’s sword pierced the man’s heart without hesitation.”

We’re Dun for today, so keep on Writin’!


Susan Uttendorfsky

Owner, Adirondack Editing




51 thoughts on “Dun Writin’—Now Whut? A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing – (01 Introduction)

  1. Reblogged this on Pukah Works and commented:
    Last week we finished up the Reblog Monday series on marketing I found over on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog. This week we’ll be starting an entirely new series on editing. Hope you enjoy, and thanks for the referral Chris and Susan.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Everything” comprises “in sight” and “out of sight”, so “in sight” is a defining subset of “everything and hence is not redundant. On then other hand, had I written example 3, I think I would have thought seriously about tearing up whatever it was written on and taking a serious break.


  3. Great series…and I do like the title! I found the simple advise on redundancy very helpful. After popping over to your site, I am confident that we will be working together in the not too distant future. I’ll email you when I am ready.


  4. Well… I didn’t reread the whole article for errors, but the following did stand out to me as a mistake:

    “They could easily be wrangled into one smooth sentence, such as, ‘The soldier’s sword pierced the man’s heart without hesitation.’ ”

    As rewritten, it’s now the sword which doesn’t hesitate to pierce the man’s heart, not the soldier. So, unless this is a magical sword… oops.

    (Happens to all of us!)


  5. THANKS for the compliment Susan.

    I think it’s somewhat strange that I can do this kind of editing when it comes to other person [Don’t make me out to be a professional, because I’m definitely not] and I’ve got difficulties when it comes to doing my own. Perhaps I’m a little too close to what has been written.

    Can’t wait to see that next installment. 🙂 🙂 🙂


  6. Looks as if this will turn out to be an extremely important series.

    Now, if I were to rewrite your original three sentences, this is how I’d have written them:

    1. The dragon in its anger blew his fiery breath destroying everything in sight. [20 words down to 13]

    2. After reading the note he wrote that she still held in her hands; tears began to flow as she wondered if she’d ever see him again.

    3. Without hesitation he ran his sword through his opponent’s heart.

    What does anyone think about these rewrites?


  7. Thank you, Susan for notifying me of your new blog! Hi Chris! My blog is also on WordPress and I am now following. I am writing this flash fiction piece for an anthology. In less than 2500 words, I found redundancies and all kinds of mistakes. I was so surprised. I thought I would catch more errors than that. No typos though. haha..I can see that I am going to need a great editor for my first novel. Susan, are you sure you are ready for me? 🙂


    • You’re welcome, Rebecca! Glad you could join the deer and the ape. I wonder who would win at arm wrestling?

      Did my post inspire your search for redundancies? I hope so! And sure, I’m ready for you anytime. 🙂


      • As as matter of fact, it did. I didn’t realize how subtle they could be. I sent the story in yesterday. I couldn’t believe the reaction. The butterflies that I felt after clicking the send button, turned into bats and it felt like someone punched me in the stomach! I wonder if it will be that way all the time? My roommate is following the blog too. She is my first reader. She is not a writer, but a critical reader and so after we both gave it the go-over, I rewrote this short little piece about 4 or 5 times. Hopefully it is at least not awful..haha. I don’t think I would dare send in a novel length piece without it being professionally edited. I see this all the time, and it is so easy to spot them that haven’t seen an editor and some not even a self-edit in my opinion. Thanks again Susan. I seriously hope that we will be able to work together. I have a feeling it would be a great fit. 🙂


        • I’m so glad this little bit of information helped you polish that piece.

          Yes, it’s very nerve wracking to click Send on your own work! I’m glad you recognize the value of a professional editor, but more so the value of YOU reworking, revising, and self-editing your own work!


  8. Great post! I hear Susan’s voice in my head as I’m writing the sentences of my next book, and see her cartoon doodles. LOL!

    This sound like an interesting series. I look forward to it.


    • Yes, Elke let my secret out. I tend to decorate my editing documents in goofy pictures and smiley faces to take the sting out of the red.

      And heaven forbid the formatting leaves a numbered, blank page! I’ve drawn some interesting things to fill them up, showing I didn’t leave out a page.


        • 😀 For one author whose story included a large container ship, on a blank page I drew the boat and the three heroes on the bow. That particular author lives in another country and has young children (and his formatting tends to leave blank, numbered pages) and I’ve drawn all sorts of American weirdness for them.


  9. I won’t forget to remember this! And now, Adirondack Editing is also, from this moment on, bookmarked on my favorites list, as well.

    In the future, I would very much like to see an upcoming post on how to stop writers using “therefore” where it doesn’t belong (which is pretty much everywhere), starting formal paragraphs with “Besides,” and inserting “on the other hand” three or more times per article. Yes, I would like that. I would like that a lot. Therefore, thank you. Also: is there any way we can murder writers who use the word “actorness,” without getting caught?

    (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. BTW, I come from your neck of the woods, Susan, but live far, far away now. At the present time.)


      • I was editing a paper on international relations, fuming at the use of “actorness” — so I thought I’d better check it out. Turns out, the international relations “literature” is riddled with “actorness.” That explains a lot.

        Sorry I got carried away with my request for help committing the perfect crime.
        (E-mail me. 😉 )


  10. Hi Thanks for this. I spotted a couple and have certainly been guilty of writing similar sentences. I’d never really thought about ‘redundancy’ but I will try to keep it mind from this day forth!
    Sensible, easy to follow advice.



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