Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Writer Wednesday: Beware the Repetition
If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.
Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.
Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.
Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.
I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.