Thursday, September 8, 2016

The More You Know, The More You'll Save: Part VIII ~ Repetition

by Alycia W. Morales

As authors, we're always looking for ways to save money and time. This is the eighth post in a series that is meant to help you save both. On the front end, putting forth the effort to learn these points will cost you some time, but in the long run, it will save you money on professional edits.

Last week, we went over transitions. This week, we'll take a look at avoiding repetition. Personally, repetition is my biggest pet peeve as a reader.

Character Traits
When describing your character, let the reader know once, maybe twice throughout the story what color his eyes and hair are. It gets redundant to read that your hero has gazed into the heroine's chocolate brown eyes more than once or twice.

Which leads me to the next form of repetition...

First of all, avoid the cliche smile, sigh, and your favorite verb. You can use them a few times, but they shouldn't be your go-to. It can sometimes prove difficult to come up with something new for your character to do, but it is possible. Use a thesaurus, check out The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, or ask a fellow writer what they suggest. But find a new way to say walk.

Please don't have your character staring up at the light-blue, fluffy clouds every time you mention clouds. And unless you're painting a mood picture, please don't make the car in the same scene light blue. Or his eyes. Watch out for repetitive adjectives (and adverbs, for that matter) throughout your novel.

Pet Words
Everyone has words they love to use over and over again in their writing. Just. Now. And (starting the sentence). But (again, starting the sentence). Sigh. Be sure you know yours, do a search in the document, and remove them.

Too often, as authors try to weave backstory into their novel, they end up repeating things as they build the story. Be aware of this and try to pick up where you left off in the weaving.

What is motivating your character? The reader should know that, but we don't need a constant reminder. Mix it up a little. Have the motivation consistent but expressed in varying ways.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves with repetition. Your reader doesn't want to know that your character is stuck in a mood pattern throughout your entire novel. If she's depressed in chapter one, she'd better be over it and moving on by chapter five. Or better yet, even sooner. This is why the character arc is so important. Your character needs to be growing and learning and changing throughout your story. If she's still stuck in the same depression in chapter fifteen as she was in chapter one, your reader isn't going to believe she will change by chapter twenty-four and the end of your book. Make your character grow. Challenge the moodiness she'd like to remain in.

This is just a short list of types of repetition used in writing. What others can you think of? Does repetition bother you as much as it does me? Let's talk! Feel free to leave a comment below.


Repetition in your novel will kill the read. 7 types to watch for. {Click to Tweet}

Quit repeating yourself when #writing. 7 types of repetition to avoid. {Click to Tweet}

1 comment:

  1. You mentioned that your depressed character in chapter 1 had better be over it by chapter 5. How should a long-term depression (for example) or any other issue be indicated if it's a long-term problem? How do you know if it's too much or not?


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