Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writing 101: Repeating Words

If you write long enough, you’re going to develop a stable of favorite words. I use “clearly” all the time and describe things as “gray” way too often. When you edit your books, you should also be checking to see how often you’re repeating words. Too much repetition ruins the flow of the book and ends up becoming distracting...becoming distracting.

Clearly, Repetition is Bad

It’s really easy to fall into patterns when you write a lot. Scene structure, dialogue and your narrative voice can start to become formulaic, and you may find yourself repeating words. It’s a bad writing habit that you can’t always break.

You can, however, edit it.

Spot your writing patterns and the words you use. I know, for example, to be on the lookout for the word “clearly.” After you’ve edited your book for plot, grammar, punctuation, spelling and all the usual suspects, be sure to edit it for cadence and tone. If you notice one word that keeps jumping out of you while you’re reading, it’s because you’ve used that word too much.

Repetition can sometimes be beneficial to a book, but only when it’s used intentionally to create a certain rhythm. When it’s happening by mistake and it’s out of your control, you’re interrupting the flow of your words. Fix it, find new words, and you’ll create a much smoother work of fiction.

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