Today’s Writing Tip Is on Contradicting Yourself

An important part of writing is making sure that what you say is consistent. You don’t want to say one thing when you mean another.

Here’s an example: “I don’t plan on coming back, at least not for a while,” Jonathan said aloud, thinking to himself silently. That’s an obvious no-no. It’s either one or the other – you say something out loud or you think it to yourself; you don’t do both.

What other problems are there with that sentence? Redundancy. Two redundancies, in fact. It’s not necessary to say “thinking to himself” because who else was he thinking to? You could just say, “Jonathan thought.” And there is no need to say, “Thinking to himself silently” because all thoughts are silent by definition.

Usually when we make these kinds of boneheaded mistakes, it’s when we are writing our first or second draft. Don’t worry about them when you’re getting your story down. It’s when you go back to refine your blog post, article, or manuscript that you want to keep a keen eye for contradictions and redundancies.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: