Don’t shrug off this bad writing habit

If writing that a character is shrugging – which is useful when showing he is uncertain or indifferent, depending on the situation – there’s no need to say he is shrugging his shoulders. That would be redundant as shrugging by definition is to raise one’s shoulder’s slightly.

It’s sort of like writing, “I’ll meet you at 9 a.m. in the morning.” There’s no need to add “in the morning” as “a.m.” by definition is “morning.”

To wit:
WRONG: When asked when the plane from Los Angeles would arrive, Emma shrugged her shoulders.
RIGHT: When asked about taking their honeymoon in New York City, Olivia shrugged.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.