Wednesday, April 7, 2010
These Shoes Are All The Same
They may be different colors, but other than that, they look the same. No matter how cute I think they are, people would get sick of it if I wore them every day. The last couple of weeks, I focused on some of the bigger issues we should watch for when rewriting and revising our manuscripts. Now, I'd like to spend some time on the smaller, but equally important, things. I've noticed repetition in both my own writing and the writing of my critique partners. This should be avoided. There are a few different types of repetition. First of all, there is the echo effect when the same word is used too close together. You've probably noticed this even in my blog posts. I have a bad habit of repeating words without even knowing it. For example, look at my previous two sentences. I used the word even in both of them. Another type of repetition is using the same word multiple times throughout a manuscript. You will notice that I've used the word notice three times, oops make that four, in this post. Pay special attention to unique words. A unique word used even twice can rub our readers the wrong way. Repetition isn't limited to the overuse of words. It can also refer to the overuse of certain phrases or sentence structures. One of my favorite phrases to abuse is When he didn't respond, I ... I used that phrase, or something similar, at least ten times in the first draft of my current manuscript. Sometimes we are repetitive in our description. I referred to characters' eyes multiple times. I also described the moon more than once. I've been known to use repetition on purpose for added emphasis. It's possible to pull this off, but we must be very careful. Having someone read our work aloud can help us decide if the technique is effective or not. What are some of your favorite repetitive mishaps? Do you have anything else about repetition to add?