Common Redundant Phrases and How to Avoid Them

In today’s post about common redundant phrases and how to avoid them, we focus on improving our writing by being aware of redundancies. A redundancy is where in a sentence, we say the same thing twice using a different word or phrase that means the same thing.

There are different types of redundancies. For example, tautology is saying the same thing twice using different words or phrases, e.g. they climbed up the mountainclimb the mountain is sufficient. Pleonasm uses more words than necessary to convey our meaning, for example, to nod my head, to hear with your earsto nod and to hear are sufficient.

We use these so often that we are often unaware we are doing so. By reducing redundancies, we can make our writing (or speech) more succinct.

photo of windows in apartment block for blog common redundant phrases and how to avoid them
Common redundant phrases and how to avoid them

Examples of common redundant phrases and how to avoid them

The best way to become aware of the redundancies we might be using in our writing is by looking at a bunch of common examples. Here we go.

Each or every

Example: Each and every day, they met in the park.

The use of every conveys how often they meet, so each can be removed. Every day, they met in the park.

The result

Example: What was the end result?

Result means the outcome, so using end is superfluous. What was the result?

I’m certain

Example: She was absolutely certain she’d found the right person.

Certain implies there’s no doubt, so absolutely isn’t needed. She was certain she’d found the right person.

What a surprise

Example: It was an unexpected surprise.

A surprise is unexpected, therefore unexpected is unnecessary.  It was a surprise or It was unexpected.

On impulse

Example: The woman had a sudden impulse to run.

An impulse is sudden, so sudden can be omitted. The woman had an impulse to run.

To capacity

Example: The building was filled to capacity.

Capacity means that something is filled to the maximum, so filled isn’t needed. The building was at capacity.

Morning or am

Example: Meet me at the park at 9 am this morning today.

9 am means the morning, so this morning can be omitted. Meet me at the park at 9 am or Meet me in the morning at 9.

An estimate

Example: He roughly estimated the amount.

Estimated means that something’s roughly calculated, so roughly is redundant. He estimated the amount.

Let’s collaborate

Example: The boss wanted them to collaborate together.

Collaborate means to work together, so together can be removed. The boss wanted them to collaborate.

The present

Example: At the present time, there’s not a lot to be discussed.

Present implies this particular moment, so time isn’t needed. At present, there’s not a lot to be discussed.

No out needed

Example: The trees protruded out over the lake.

Protruded means that something extends beyond or rises above the surface, so using out is redundant. The trees protruded over the lake.

It’s in the past

Example: She looked into her family’s past history.

History means something in the past, so using past is redundant. She looked into her family’s history.

It’s free

Example: They were giving out free gifts.

Gifts are given without the receiver paying, so free can be omitted. They were giving out gifts.

Forever

Example: He told her that he’d love her forever and always.

Forever implies always, so using only one of the words will convey the same idea. He told her that he’d love her forever or He told her that he’d always love her.

The beginning

Example: When the movie first began, no one was paying attention.

Began implies the beginning of something, so using first is redundant and can be omitted. When the movie began, no one was paying attention.

Routines are regular

Example: Before starting work, he carried out his regular routine.

A routine is to do something regularly, making regular unnecessary. Before starting work, he carried out his routine.

Something new

Example: The car was a new innovation.

An innovation is a new idea or product, so using new is redundant. The car was innovative.

Summaries are short

Example: Before the professor started the lecture, she gave a short summary.

A summary is a condensed version of the main points, so using short isn’t necessary. Before the professor started the lecture, she gave a summary.

RSVP

Example: Please R.S.V.P. by the end of the month.

This is a little trickier, but to be entirely correct, because R.S.V.P. comes from the French ‘répondez s’il vous plait’ meaning ‘please respond’, please can be omitted. R.S.V.P. by the end of the month.

Sit closer

Example: They sat in close proximity.

Proximity implies nearness, so using the word close is redundant. The two words can be used interchangeably though. They sat in proximity or They sat close together.

I think

Example: In her opinion, she thought the teacher was wrong.

An opinion is someone’s thoughts and beliefs, so to use she thought is redundant. In her opinion, the teacher was wrong.

A bonus

Example: The free lunch was an added bonus.

Bonus means that something is an addition, so the use of added is superfluous. The free lunch was a bonus.


The examples given above can apply to all types of writing, as well as to speech. Next time you’re writing, be more aware of these common redundant phrases and try not to use them. Your writing will be more powerful and engaging because of the extra effort you put into it.

Acknowledgements

Fun with Words 2020, Redundant Phrases, viewed 29 August, 2020,
http://www.fun-with-words.com/redundant_phrases.html

Nichol, M 2011, 50 Redundant Phrases to Avoid, viewed 29 August 2020, https://www.dailywritingtips.com/50-redundant-phrases-to-avoid

Wikipedia 2020, Tautology (Linguistics), viewed 4 September 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology_(language)

WikiDiff 2020, Redundant vs Tautology – What’s the difference?, viewed 4 September 2020, https://wikidiff.com/redundant/tautology

Wright, C 2020, Are you using these 6 common tautologies?, viewed 3 September 2020, https://blog.lingoda.com/en/six-common-tautologies

Your Dictionary 2014, Examples of Tautology, viewed 3 September 2020,  https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-tautology.html


Many thanks to Hannah Daylight, my current intern from the University of the Sunshine Coast, for preparing this blog.

Contact Us for all your writing and editing needs: writer coaching, manuscript appraisals, comprehensive editing and self-publishing support

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 29

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter

Welcome to the Writers Connect! Newsletter

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: Writing Competitions
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Humorous Quote
  • Writing Inspiration

Write Here, Right Now: Writing Events

Following are writing competitions that close in late August 2020.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

 

Comp 1: Raconteur Literary Magazine 12-Word Story Contest

This seemed like the shortest story contest I’d ever seen but back in June, Raconteur held a six-word story contest!

About: A short, short story competition!

Open to: International. Age limit not stated

Word count: 12 words

Theme: Not stated

Closes: 26 August 2020

Entry fee: $3

Prize: 1st = $100. 2nd = 1-year e-mag subscription. 3rd = 1-year e-mag subscription

Details here: http://raconteurmag.com/12-word-story-open-aug-1/

 

Comp 2: Gulf Stream Summer Contest

A cross-genre competition catering to fiction and nonfiction writers, and poets, offering emerging writers the opportunity to have their work read by published poets and authors.

About: This competition offers categories in fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. Submitted work must be original and previously unpublished

Open to: International emerging writers, age not stated

Word count: 5,000 words fiction and creative nonfiction; poetry up to 5 poems

Theme: Not stated

Closes: 30 August 2020

Entry fee: $7

Prizes: 1st = $100 + plus publication in Issue #26 of Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. Two finalists from each category = published in Issue #26 and reimbursed their entry fee

Details here: https://gulfstreamlitmag.com/contests/

 

Comp 3: Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Competition

Ex Ophidia Press is a fine literary press, specialising in the publication of contemporary poetry and fiction by distinguished writers.

About: A prestigious prize for winning poets

Open to: Open to all English-language authors worldwide (any age, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation) for a book of poetry

Length: Full manuscript (see link for length guidelines)

Theme: Not stated

Closes: 31 August 2020

Entry fee: $25

Prizes: 1st = $1,000 US cash prize + book publication by Ex Ophidia Press + 15 author copies. There will also be nine finalists (prizes for these not stated)

Details here: http://exophidiapress.org/Ex_Ophidia_Press/Ex_Ophidia_Poetry_Prize.html

 

Comp 4: Michael Terence Publishing Summer Short Story Competition

A short story competition open to a diversity of genres in both fiction and nonfiction.

About: Most genres accepted including fiction​, science fiction, non-fiction (e.g. biography, memoir, true story)

Open to: 16+ writers of any nationality writing in English

Word Count: 3,000 maximum (no minimum)

Theme: Appears to be open

Closes: 31 August 2020

Entry fee: £5 per story entered

Prizes: 1st = £ 500 (GBP) + Annual All-Access Masterclass Pass + Publication in MTP Summer Anthology (print book & ebook) + Anthology title based on title of winning entry. 2nd = £300 + Publication in MTP Summer Anthology (print book & ebook). 3rd = £200 + Publication in MTP Summer Anthology (print book & ebook)

Details here: https://www.mtp.agency/copy-of-competition

 

Word of the Day

ebullient 

This word has two meanings: 1. To overflow with excitement or fervour; 2. Boiling, bubbling. ebullient is a derivative of the Latin word ebullire, which means to boil or bubble up. It is thought to have first been used in the 1590s.

Humorous quote

Why I write: Because kidnapping people and forcing them to act out your interesting make-believe worlds is technically illegal—Unknown 

Get Inspired

On my website, I mention this quote by the great Russian playwright and short storyteller in relation to the writing technique of ‘show, don’t tell’. It’s so beautiful it’s worth repeating:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass― Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).

Writing tip

Following Chekhov’s advice, find a favourite old photo. Imagine you’re in it and write about what’s happening in a way that shows, not tells. Send me the result, along with a JPEG of the photo, and I’ll publish the best entry in the next newsletter!

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

Is your Book Character-Driven or Plot-Driven?

Do you know, is your book character-driven or plot-driven? The first question should be, what does character-driven and plot-driven mean?!

Illustration of a confused person looking at different options to represent the choice between character-driven and plot-driven stories
What do character-driven and plot-driven mean?

Plot-driven

In a plot-driven story, the action is the focus of the writing, not the character. The character tends to be static; there is little character development. Plot-driven stories are often genres like horror, action, science fiction. An example of a plot-driven story is Dan Brown’s mystery thriller The Da Vinci Code. The story focuses not on the development of protagonist Robert Langdon or focus character Sophie Neveu but on their search for clues in an attempt to solve a mystery.

Character-driven

Character-driven stories focus on the character, the character’s emotional depth and the transformation the character experiences. A famous example of a character-driven story is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The central characters, children Scout and Jem Finch, develop an awareness of racism and its implications when their lawyer father Atticus defends Tom Robinson. They also ‘grow up’ (develop) in their understanding of their neighbour Boo Radley when he ultimately saves them from the story’s villain.

NY Book Editors  explain it like this: ‘Whereas plot-driven stories focus on a set of choices that a character must make, a character-driven story focuses on how the character arrives at a particular choice. The plot in a character-driven story is usually simple and often hyper-focused on the internal or interpersonal struggle of the character(s).’

Do you write character-driven or plot-driven stories?

As writers, our style naturally tends towards either character-driven or plot-driven stories. What’s important is to get the balance right – because both plot and character are necessary!

This means becoming aware of how we approach storytelling – that is, whether we write character-driven or plot-driven stories – and then consciously making a choice to keep the balance right between character and plot.

Problems of imbalance

Why is it necessary to have a balance between character and plot? Most of us write because we love writing. Beyond that, we write so that readers will want to read our books. We’re writing for an audience, ultimately, and good storytelling engages our audience through to the end of the story. This means we need to find the happy balance between character and plot.

Losing the plot

Stories that focus so much on character that they ‘lose the plot’ risk making their characters yawningly boring. A character may be appealing, intelligent and good-looking but if they are given no task to fulfil in the story – no conflict they have to face, so no growth and no development – then there’s unlikely to be great reader engagement with the story. 

Too much focus on plot

A fast-paced page-turner with heaps of action and heart-stopping scenes that leave the reader breathless, but that star one-dimensional characters, will be unsatisfying to the reader. One-dimensional means the characters lack depth, they do not learn or grow – they are boring.

How to nail it

If you’re struggling with getting the balance between character and plot right, these ideas may help:

Analyse movies

When you’re watching a movie, follow it more closely than you might usually and work out whether it’s character-driven or plot-driven.

Read

Read excellent books written by excellent writers. You can’t go wrong with the classics of worldwide literature, and if you’re unsure, a quick Google search will reveal them. Your local librarians are a good source of knowledge on first-rate writers and books.

A couple of examples of books where the author got the balance between character and plot just right are:

Do a writing exercise

Challenge yourself to come up with an interesting situation asking a ‘what-if’ question, like Stephen King suggests (see below). Think up your main character, and then write a scene or a couple of pages. You never know; from these humble beginnings an award-winning story may be born!

Take courses

Many writers’ centres all over the English-speaking world now offer online courses in many aspects of creative writing. Search online to see what’s on offer for 2019.

What Stephen King says

Let’s finish this discussion with what storytelling master Stephen King says in his book On Writing: A memoir of the craft. He says that he distrusts plot, putting forward two valid reasons: ‘… our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning’. He also believes that ‘plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible’. What is needed is a strong situation. He proposes that the ‘most interesting situations can usually be expressed as a What-if question’, and gives examples of his own books: ‘What if vampires invaded a small New England village? (Salem’s Lot). What if a young mother and her son became trapped in their stalled car by a rabid dog? (Cujo)’ (© 2000 Stephen King).

I hope you have found the post, Is your book character-driven or plot-driven? – useful. Let me know if you’d like more on this topic.

Acknowledgements

Australian Writers’ Centre, Character-driven versus plot-driven stories, 2014.
https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/character-driven-versus-plot-driven-stories/. Accessed 14 Jan 2019

Jennifer Kenning, How to be your own Script Doctor, 2006, the Continuum International Publishing Group, New York. Page 83: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=WT4VZC4lKiQC&pg=PA83&lpg=PA83&dq=Character+driven+vs+plot+driven+stories&source=bl&ots=biInlzdkNQ&sig=MeS9yKpo4drzEEIcC0_JBKBRws4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjFtpTCvuzfAhUFKo8KHcQtA084lgEQ6AEwAHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Character%20driven%20vs%20plot%20driven%20stories&f=false. Accessed 14 Jan 2019

Stephen King, On Writing: A memoir of the craft, 2000, Hodder & Stoughton, London.

NY Book Editors, Character-Driven Vs. Plot Driven: Which Is Best, nd.
https://nybookeditors.com/2017/02/character-driven-vs-plot-driven-best/. Accessed 14 Jan 2019

The Guardian, How to Write, 2000. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/oct/01/stephenking.sciencefictionfantasyandhorror. Accessed 15 Jan 2019.


Gail Tagarro, Accredited Editor (AE)


Contact me to have a chat about your manuscript. You may be ready for an edit, or you may think you need a manuscript appraisal for further development. Ask about writer coaching. Asking is free and I’m very approachable! Check out my testimonials while you’re on my website. Read some of the other informative blogs!


I invite you to download my self-published eBook – see cover below. Click here to download. Enhance your writing technique and skills! Learn how easy it is to self-publish your book!

cover of ten ways to supercharge your writing skills by gail tagarro

The Incorrigible Optimists Club

the incorrigible optimists club

A Book Review

I had never heard of The Incorrigible Optimists Club or the Algerian-born writer Jean-Michel Guenassia. I came across it in the library when I was selecting books for my Christmas holiday reading. The original is written in French and I read the English translation by Euan Cameron.

It is quite untrue that covers don’t sell books. I was drawn to the cover and then I was hooked after reading the blurb and the first page. (It wasn’t until later that I noticed the border design of the book bizarrely matched that of my laptop case.)

I love long works of quality fiction, especially for Christmas holiday reading, and at 624 pages, this one fulfilled my craving.


A Highly Recommended Read!

The Incorrigible Optimists Club is one of those special books that’s hard to set aside when you have to do necessary things, like cook meals, or sleep.

It’s hard to believe that The Incorrigible Optimists Club is this author’s debut novel. Written against the backdrop of the Algerian War (the war for independence between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front 1954—1962), and the era of the Iron Curtain, the book offers no facile solutions to the issues raised. Neither does it excuse the terrible tragedies caused by politics and war. What’s more, the author manages to maintain an optimistic tone, and insert humour, despite the seriousness of some of the issues.

Paris 1959

The year is 1959, the place Paris. The story follows Michel Marin, a twelve-year-old compulsive reader and amateur photographer who’s a champion table football player at the local neighbourhood bistro.

But for his age, Michel has an extraordinary interest in the wider affairs of the world and a special empathy. He is drawn to a curtained-off area at the back of the bistro where a group of exiled Eastern European men gather to chat, play chess and smoke: the Incorrigible Optimists Club. As he is gradually accepted into their circle, he listens to their stories about their homelands before they fled to France, and becomes involved in their lives.

He forms a friendship with a Russian former doctor and expert chess player, Igor, who teaches Michel to play chess. He also becomes friends with another exile, Sacha, who is rigorously and aggressively denied access to the club, especially by Igor and another Russian, Leonid, whenever he dares show up. We do not learn until the end of the book why these two men hate him so much.

Michel becomes an important connection to the outside world for Sacha. In his turn, Sacha becomes a trusted sounding board for Michel’s teen angst in the absence of his father who has moved away from Paris when he and Michel’s mother, an aloof figure in Michel’s life, separate.

The club is also the occasional haunt of Jean Paul Sartre, French philosopher, writer and political activist, and Joseph Kessel, Argentinian-born French journalist and novelist. Many of the men in the club survive thanks to the generosity of Sartre and Kessel. The author drops these famous characters into his book as if he were telling the time of day, although the characters treat them with due reverence: “We gazed at him [Sartre] from a distance, slightly intimidated, feeling we were privileged witnesses of creativity in action, and even those who disliked him watched in silence…”

In the tense resolution of the story, Sacha’s strange rituals and the mysteries surrounding him are finally revealed in a way Michel could never have foreseen.


Jean-Michel Guenassia, The Incorrigible Optimists Club, 2014, Atlantic Books Ltd, London. Available through the Book Depository with free shipping.


Gail Tagarro, Editor (AE)


Contact me to have a chat about your manuscript. You may be ready for an edit, or you may like a manuscript appraisal, or to ask about writer coaching. Asking is free and I’m very approachable! Check out my testimonials while you’re on my website. Read some of the other informative blogs!


I invite you to download my self-published eBook – see cover below. Click here to download. Enhance your writing technique and skills! Learn how easy it is to self-publish your book!

cover of ten ways to supercharge your writing skills by gail tagarro

ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES and other words

While Charles Darwin gave us the theory of evolution in his ground-breaking work On the Origin of Species, the subject of this blog is etymology: the origin of words and how their meanings have changed over time.

This blog is not intended as an academic treatise on etymology. It does not give every single meaning of the words given below. It is intended as a light and playful skim of the surface rather a plunge into the depths of the meaning, history and origin of words.

On the origin of species and other words

on the origin of species

On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, 1809-1882

species

The noun species comes from Latin species, which meant ‘a particular sort, kind or type’. In Late Latin, it also came to mean ‘a special case’. The Latin noun is related to the verb specere ‘to look at, to see, behold’. From the 1550s, species came to mean ‘appearance, outward form’, and by the 1560s it had evolved to mean ‘distinct class (of something) based on common characteristics’. The biological meaning of ‘species’ dates from c. 1600. The term ‘endangered species’ appears to date from 1964.

Did you know? The word ‘spice’ derives from the same Late Latin word species.

…and now we go alphabetical

Now that we’ve looked into ‘on the origin of species’, we’ll look at some other words.

I’ve chosen the theme of prefixes and compounds. A prefix is a group of letters, with a specific meaning, added to the beginning of a word to create a new word with a different meaning. The prefix un-, for example, added to the beginning of happy, changes the meaning to, in this case, its opposite: unhappy. Compound nouns comprise some or all of the letters of two separate words in combination.

ante-

This prefix derives from the Latin ante, meaning ‘before (in place or time), in front of, against’.

Some examples:

antechamber – a chamber, room or apartment through which access is gained to a principal apartment

antenatal – before birth

ante meridiem – before midday. Most of us are familiar with the abbreviated form am, which is used in the example sentence below.

Sentences using the above:

The king’s youthful groom of the stool looked up when the queen entered the antechamber on her way to the king’s private apartments.

The young parents attended antenatal classes to be ready for the birth of their twins.

‘We leave at 11 am,’ Dot’s husband announced.

What’s the opposite of ante-?

The opposite of ante- is post-.

bene-

bene- comes from the Latin adverb meaning ‘well, in the right way, honourably, properly’.

Some examples:

beneficence – kind, charitable

benefit – something beneficial or advantageous

benign – kind, favourable

Sentences using the above:

The king’s beneficence was appreciated by all his medieval subjects.

A benefit of working from home is you don’t get caught in peak traffic.

He has a benign smile.

What’s the opposite of bene-?

The opposite of bene- is mal-.

cardio-

This prefix comes from the Greek word kardia meaning ‘heart’.cardio

Some examples:

cardiologist – heart specialist

cardiometer – a device to measure the strength of the heart

cardiopulmonary – relating to the heart and the lungs

Sentences using the above:

The cardiologist measured the strength of Sue’s heart using a cardiometer.

The conference addressed specialists in cardiopulmonary diseases.

dec- and deca-

These prefixes derive from the Greek word deka meaning ‘ten’.

Some examples:

Decalogue – the Ten Commandments. The word originally came from the Greek dekalogos; later, in Latin, this became decalogus.

decagon – a polygon with ten angles and ten sides

decaspermal – a botanical term meaning a plant that contains ten seeds

Sentences using the above:

God handed Moses the Decalogue on Mt Sinai.

A polygon with ten sides is called a decagon.

The berry of the plant Psidium decaspermum is decaspermal.

eco-

This is a shortening of ecology or ecological and refers to the environment and its relationship with human beings. It originates from the Greek oikos for ‘house, dwelling’.

Some examples:

ecofreak (that’s a good one!) – someone who is fanatical about conservation of the environment

ecology – the branch of biology dealing with the relationship of living organisms to their environment (Greek eco- + logos ‘word, reason, discourse’)

eco-friendly – causing limited or no damage to the environment

Sentence using the above:

Some people think Ben’s an ecofreak because he majored in ecology and he works for an eco-friendly organisation.

Franco-

Franco- derives from the Medieval Latin word meaning ‘French’ or ‘the Franks’. From the early eighteenth century it has been used to form English compound words.

prefix Franco

ooh la, la

Some examples:

Francophile – a person who loves France and the French to the point of obsession

Francophobe – a person who has a morbid fear of the French

Franco-Canadians – French-speaking Canadians

Sentences using the above:

All Fred’s friends call him a Francophile because he visits France every year and he’s in love with France and the French.

Robert is a Francophobe who can’t stand France or the French.

People who speak French in Canada are called Franco-Canadians or Canadiens.

gastro-

Deriving from the Greek word gastēr, this meant ‘stomach’.

Some examples:

gastroenterologist – a specialist in the branch of medicine dealing with the stomach and intestines

gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach and intestines. You may have heard this abbreviated colloquially to ‘gastro’

gastropod – a class of molluscs that move by sliding along on a ventral (relating to the belly) muscular ‘foot’

Sentences using the above:

Frank was having recurring problems with his digestion so his doctor referred him to a gastroenterologist.

I had to take two days off work because I had an attack of gastroenteritis.

Slugs and snails are gastropods.

hydro-

From the Greek hydōr meaning ‘water’.

Some examples:

hydroelectric – electricity produced from the energy of running water

hydrogen – colourless, gaseous element. From the French hydrogène (Greek hydōr + Greek genēs meaning ‘born’), coined in 1787 by French chemist L.B. Guyton de Morveau in reference to the generation of water from the combustion of hydrogen

hydroplane – motor-powered boat that glides on the surface of water, coined 1895 by U.S. engineer Harvey D. Williams. (Greek hydōr + Latin plānum ‘level surface’). As a verb, it was first recorded in 1962 meaning to ‘skid on a thin layer of water’ (especially of car tyres)

Sentences using the above:

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, China is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, commissioned in 2008.

Hydrogen is a colourless gas and it is the lightest and most common element in the universe.

hydroplane is a speedboat that rises out of the water when it reaches a certain speed.

idio-

From the Greek idio- meaning ‘private, separate, distinct’, this indicates peculiarity, isolation, or something pertaining to an individual person or thing.

Some examples:

idiom – words whose meaning cannot be understood from the meanings of accompanying words, e.g. ‘It was raining cats and dogs’. Unless you’re a native English speaker, or a proficient non-native English speaker, you cannot predict the meaning of ‘cats and dogs’ in this sentence

idiosyncrasy – a quirk or unusual trait, mannerism or behaviour (from Greek idiosunkrasia: idio– + sunkrasis mixture, temperament)

idolatry – ‘the worship of idols’ or ‘excessive devotion to someone/something’

Sentences using the above:

The English-language students looked at one another in astonishment when their teacher used the idiom ‘bite the bullet’.

Her idiosyncrasy was that she wore reading glasses when she didn’t need them.

His idolatry of the president is insufferable.

kerato-

From the Greek kerat-, keras meaning ‘horn’

Some examples:

keratin – a  protein in the outer layer of the skin and in hair, nails, feathers, hooves, etc.

keratosis – a harmless skin condition characterised by a horny or scaly growth

Sentences using the above:

A horn is a permanent pointed projection on the head of various animals consisting of a covering of keratin and other proteins surrounding a core of live bone (Wikipedia).

When I had my skin cancer check recently, the specialist said not to worry as I only had a solar keratosis.

Did you know? The word cornea (the transparent membrane covering the front of the eyeball) is a Latin word related to the Greek keras.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about the origin of words like ‘species’, ‘ecofreak’ and ‘Francophile’, drop me an email.

Acknowledgements

Collins Online Dictionary, accessed 03/01/19, https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english

Macquarie Dictionary, accessed 03/01/19, https://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/

Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed 02/01/19, https://www.etymonline.com/

Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition, CD-ROM Version 4.0

Wikipedia, accessed 03/01/19, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horn_(anatomy)

I invite you to download my self-published eBook “Ten Ways to Super-Charge your Writing Skills! with bonus chapter on Self-Publishing”

Help me Tell my Story

“ I’ve got a story in me that’s important to tell. I want to write a story but I don’t know how to start. Help me tell my story ”

Does this sound like you?

Whimsical 3D book

Great ideas for writers

I’ve spoken with many people who have an important book inside them. Some people in their 70s, 80s and 90s may never have told their family about the ‘real you’, because the past holds painful memories. But one day, you decide it’s important to tell your story. As an older person, the era you lived in and the way life used to be is fascinating for younger generations. Your history could well have relevance outside your family. History is lost once people who lived in a certain era ‘move on’. There is great value in recording these memories for posterity.

Whatever your story may be, and whether you’re ten or a hundred and ten, if it’s important to you, then these suggestions may help get you started.

Common hurdles

Some of the most common obstacles to would-be writers seem to be:

1. ‘It seems too overwhelming to write a whole book’
2. ‘I don’t have the writing skills’
3. ‘My story’s in my head.’ ‘I don’t own a computer but I have handwritten notes.’ ‘I can’t type.’

The hardest step is usually the first step.

Make it manageable. Simplify.

Start with a table of contents

Type (or write) up a structure for your book, a table of contents. You may find a chronological structure (e.g. divided into years) works for you. A table of contents will give a starting point to any type of book, and may be particularly helpful if you’re writing your memoir, or a non-fiction book about historical events.

You can always add to or take away from the contents as the writing progresses – and you will probably want to.

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a few minutes or a few days to come up with a structure that you’re happy with. But one thing is certain: working to a structure will make writing the book much easier. You’ll be amazed at how the ideas begin to flow once you have a starting point.

You might want to number the chapters – Chapter 1, Chapter 2… or you may prefer to have chapter titles – Growing Up in Adelaide; First Boyfriend…

Don’t get fancy at first. Just come up with the major headings.

Ancient table of contentsThen, when you have your top-level structure worked out, think about the topics or themes you want to cover under each chapter heading. Then you can begin to flesh out your table of contents.

For a non-fiction book, it may be easiest to have several sub-headings for the topics you want to cover in each chapter, in the order you want to cover them.

For a fiction book, write a brief description under each chapter of what you want to cover – a chapter-by-chapter synopsis.

Again, it’s quite okay for your initial structure to be fluid. As you begin writing and as your book progresses, you may decide to reorder, add or remove chapters.

Help me tell my story! I don’t have the writing skills

Join a writer’s group

Joining a local writer’s group or writer’s centre is a great way to get help and support while you are writing your book.

If transportation is an issue or you are housebound, ask a writer friend to come over so you can write together. It’s amazing how having another writer in the room inspires and motivates.

Look for a writing mentor online.

Join a writing Meetup group.

Hire a ghostwriter

If you are adamant that you don’t have a writer’s bone in your body, and you can afford this option, a ghostwriter will write your book for you. To find out more about it, click on the link to read my ghostwriting blog.

My story’s in my head, I don’t have a computer and I don’t type

Free classes

Take free classes through your local library to learn how to use a computer. Libraries offer free use of computers for specified periods, usually a couple of hours at a time, so once you build up the skills, you don’t even need to buy a computer to write your story if you don’t want to.

Ask a friend

You may not be interested in learning how to use a computer for any number of reasons. You may have transportation or health issues, or you may be sight impaired. So ask a friend to help you type up your story.

Arrange with your friend to come over to your place once or twice a week. Set aside one-hour-long sessions and work to that diligently. Don’t try to spend longer or you both may become overwhelmed. Focus on only one topic each session, and get down as much as possible. Avoid becoming side-tracked – don’t chat about the weather, that can come later! You will make much faster progress this way, and both you and your friend will feel a sense of accomplishment after each session if you are disciplined. Reward yourselves with wine afterwards!

If you have any handwritten notes or letters for inclusion, your friend can type them up for you and slot them into the relevant chapters.

What is your story?

Graveyard on a dark and stormy night

There’s no age limit to writing.

You will find a way.

Let me know how I can help with getting your book started, no matter where you are with your manuscript or what editorial service you need. If you’re not sure, it’s free to ask. I’m approachable and always happy to help new writers.


I invite you to download my self-published eBook “Ten Ways to Super-charge your Writing Skills! with bonus chapter on Self-Publishing”

Ghostwriting Australia

woman embraced by a figure coming through the page of a book

Ghostwriting Australia: Ghostwriter Gratitude

What is a Ghostwriter?

In this blog post, Ghostwriting Australia, we define a ghostwriter as an author who writes books, stories, blogs, magazine articles, or any other written content that will officially be attributed to another person. That other person is known as the credited author or ‘commissioner’.

Why use Ghostwriting Services?

Sportspeople, politicians, celebrities, and businesspeople are the traditional users of ghostwriting services. While these people are experts in their fields, they are not professional writers. Hiring a ghostwriter to write their autobiography, biography or business document ensures they convey their message clearly and professionally.

I’m not a Celebrity. Why do I Need my Story Ghostwritten?

Some reasons that you may choose to work with a ghostwriter are:

  • English is not your first language and you are not confident about writing a book for publishing
  • You are writing your first book and need help getting started
  • You have a story that is important to you. It may be a memoir, a biography, your autobiography, ‘that’ story you have held inside you for your whole life, a ‘how-to’ or self-help book that you want to share with others, an article, or an online blog. You do not have the confidence to express your ideas with clarity or the experience to write with confidence.

What do Ghostwriters Write?

A ghostwriter may be hired by the credited author (or the credited author’s publisher) to:

  • write a complete book, article or blog
  • do most of the writing for a book based on a specified outline
  • do research for a book, article or blog
  • finish off a book in the same style as the author to free them up for other writing work
  • write sections of a book in collaboration with the credited author (similar to ‘developmental editing’).

How do I Find a Ghostwriter for my Book?

The best way to find a good ghostwriter is to:

  • consult professional publications and professional organisations
  • do an online search for ghostwriting
  • contact several writers and ask them about their experience.

Ghostwriting Australia: Finding a Ghostwriter

Ghostwriting Fees

How much does it cost to ghostwrite? There are several considerations around fees:

  • How much material is involved and how long will it take to write?
  • How much written material can you provide the writer, and what kind of shape is that material in?
  • What is the complexity of the subject matter and the required expertise of the ghostwriter? If you need a book written on rocket science, you would expect to pay both for the ghostwriter’s writing expertise and for their knowledge of the specialised subject
  • How established and experienced is the ghostwriter?

To write a complete book, a professional ghostwriter can take several months to a year to research, organise, write, edit, and revise a non-fiction work. Meantime, they have to live, and so if they are working pretty much full time on your book, you will need to expect to pay accordingly.

Some ghostwriters charge a flat fee per word, or per page. Other ghostwriters may accept a percentage of the royalties on the sales of the book. If you are an unpublished author and you do not yet have a publishing contract, it is unreasonable to expect the ghostwriter to accept payment based exclusively on a percentage of royalties when there is no realistic basis for expecting there will be any.

Book ghostwriting fees can range from the ‘low’ end at $10,000, to $100,000 per project charged by established celebrity ghostwriters (some celebrity ghostwriters command $250,000 plus).

If the project is small – the ghostwriter will write a blog, an article, or a few chapters of your book – then you can expect to pay an hourly or per-page rate, and this depends on what the individual ghostwriter charges per hour or per page.

It is worth checking with your accountant, as the cost of ghostwriting a book related to your business may be tax-deductible.

How Long does it take to Ghostwrite a Book?

As a rough guide, a 200-page non-fiction book may require close to 300 hours of time – around 70 hours of research and organisation time, one hour’s writing time per page, and one hour of editing/revision time for each 10 pages.

Should I hire a Ghostwriter Offshore?

A recent trend has been to outsource ghostwriting jobs offshore. While this may initially save fees, the quality varies wildly and usually, a book that has been ghostwritten by someone whose first language is not English is never published. The ghostwriter does not understand the culture, or the nuances of the English language, or the vernacular (e.g. Australian English).

In suggesting that it is not ideal to hire a ghostwriter whose first language is other than English, my intention is not to be culturally insensitive. I am simply being practical. If the boot was on the other foot, and you wanted your book written in a language other than English, you would be unlikely to hire a writer whose first language was English rather than the target language.

Choosing a ghostwriter based exclusively on price is false economy and ultimately not cheaper. You may need to spend a lot of time communicating your intent when the ghostwriter does not ‘get it’. The ghostwriter may have to rewrite multiple times before they get it right – if they do. Isn’t that precisely why you hired a ghostwriter? To get it right the first time?

It’s simple really; you get what you pay for.

What should I look for in a Ghostwriter?

  • A good writer. Give them an idea of what you want. Ask them to provide samples of their work
  • A person you communicate with easily and feel at ease with
  • A ghostwriter whose first language is English
  • A ghostwriter who understands the cultural context of your story, and the nuances of the English language.

Should I Credit the Ghostwriter for Writing the Book?

There are various ways that a ghostwriter can receive credit for their writing contribution if you as the credited author wish to. It is up to you how much credit, if any, you give to the ghostwriter. The ghostwriter may receive partial credit (‘with [your name]’ or ‘as told to [your name]’ on the cover), or the acknowledgement may mention the ghostwriter’s contribution.

If you do not wish the ghostwriter to receive any official credit for writing your book or article, you as the credited author can agree this with the ghostwriter. You may ask them to sign a nondisclosure contract that forbids them from revealing their ghostwriting role. The reason they’re called ‘ghostwriter’ is that their role is usually invisible!

Is the Ghostwriter Entitled to a Share of Royalties when my Book is Published?

If you are paying per page or per word, or you have agreed a flat fee for ghostwriting your book, you generally keep the royalties. How you pay the ghostwriter and whether you share the royalties is part of negotiating with the ghostwriter.

Ghostwriting Australia: Should we have a Contract?

As with any business arrangement, it is always a good idea to have a written contract, signed by both parties, setting out the agreement between you. The Australian Society of Authors has a template the ghostwriter can use as a basis for the agreement.

Is Ghostwriting really for you?

This post has explained that ghostwriting is a lengthy and costly process. That’s why it’s mainly well-known people like politicians and sportspeople who commission a ghostwriter. Also, the manuscripts of such figures are much more likely to be picked up by mainstream publishers, who need to minimise their risks. One of the main ways to reduce their risk is by being confident that the book will sell. A well-known writer will more easily sell a biography or an autobiography than an unknown writer. While this may be discouraging to hear, it is an understandable reality.

Alternatives to Ghostwriting

Would you like to write your book yourself? But you believe you don’t have the confidence, or the skills, or you don’t know where to start? Then writer coaching and mentoring may be what suits you better. 

Writer Coaching and Mentoring

Please click here: writer coaching and mentoring

Full Service for Self-Publishing Authors

As for writer coaching, you want to write your book yourself, plus you want guidance throughout the process, all the way to publishing and printing your book. We offer a full service to self-publishing authors, from go to whoa, and anywhere in between.

Please click here: https://editors4you.com.au/writedesign-publications/

Ghostwriting Australia Explained

NOTE: I am not currently taking on major ghostwriting projects. If you have a short ghostwriting project such as a blog or an article, or you would like to enquire about writer coaching or the full service for selfpublshing authors, please connect with me.


I hope you have found lots of helpful information in this blog, Ghostwriting Australia.

Gail Tagarro Books

cover of historical novel by G.E. Tagarro Winter in Mallorca about Chopin and George Sand for blog post ghostwriting australia

Click here to read a description of Winter in Mallorca. You can also purchase the novel at that link $24.95 (+postage, or pickup Gold Coast).