Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Didn't You Just Say That?

April has been a crazy month for me with more edits than I've ever had in a single month. It also made me notice a trend. Writers tend to repeat themselves.

I found myself using the delete key quite often and commenting that something had already been stated, usually in the same paragraph or on the same page. As writers, we don't want to do this because it's insulting to the reader. Readers are smart. They'll remember things and even pick up on things the writer might not have realized. Trust me. I taught 8th grade language arts and saw it happen all the time.

Another error that goes in the same category is saying something in the narration that gets repeated in the dialogue that follows it. When this happens, it's usually is a case of Tell then Show. Just show. Let the dialogue speak for itself and use your narration for better things, like setting the scene or witty internal thoughts. 

So without repeating myself—See what I did there? ;) —trust your readers to be intelligent enough to remember what you've already told them. 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

18 comments:

  1. A funny thing since in movies I hear of the power of three. Show viewers the same thing three times in different ways to make them remember. We readers are too smart for that. *Wink*

    Question: How does someone go about becoming an editor and how you know how good you are at editing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, movies and TV get away with a lot that books cannot. Definitely different standards.

      I'll tackle your question next Wednesday. Thanks for the topic.

      Delete
  2. I'm so guilty of repeating myself. Thank goodness for crit buddies! And it surprises me how many times I run into the narration/dialogue repetition in books from the big publishers. Why do they let that slide so often? As a reader, it's maddening. Almost insulting. Thanks for pointing this out, Kelly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Spot-on, as usual. I find that I conjure such repetitions not in the first draft, but the second. They are almost always the result of a Beta who read the first draft and said s/he didn't understand something. In an instinctive way I think I better state it again, somewhere, because after all it was "in there" to begin with. On third revision I do the better thing-- making it clearer in a new way.
    This sort of repetition to make a point is like being told by someone that they don't understand, so you say the same thing, only louder. The better way is to say it differently.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hate it when I find I've repeated the same information. Grrrr.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent point! I've caught myself a few times, usually during revisions when I'll forget I've already described something later on. Thanks for sharing, Kelly:-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Kelly, you made an excellent point, when a writer repeats something again and again, its insulting to the reader. The book I am currently reading for review does that. There is so much repetition its driving me mad.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great tips! I'm working on a group project and one big problem all of us have is "word echo." One of the collaborators will actually highlight both words and write "echo" as a comment and let us just pick which one we want to change...and that doesn't even include the other types of repetition we do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know why we feel the need to repeat ourselves but we all do it.

      Delete

I love comments, but not spam. All spam will be deleted.