Repeating actions and words seems like a lot of fun. It worked the first time so it should work again.



You have given the reader a memorable moment. Let it go, as that ear worm of a song tells us repetitively. Don’t repeat that throughout the book whenever you’re stuck for a phrase or description.

Move on, in other words. Figure out new descriptions. Discover a new phrase that totally rocks. Whatever you do, do not repeat that great phrase. It just won’t work, especially if you keep using it over and over again.

Authors are artists—our craft is working with words, bending them to meet our expectations and turning a dull tale of two people meeting on the street into a classic story of good versus evil. What we cannot do is cheat our readers and by using repetition that is exactly what we’re doing.

We’re being lazy. It’s too hard to figure out a new description so we’re going to put in an old one. It worked before, so it should work now.

We have two characters with nearly the same name. Why not make them look alike? If my editor gripes about that, I’ll throw in a POW moment—they’re identical twins separated at birth.

Before you attempt this old hack, might I strongly suggest a bit of research on the subject of identical twins separated at birth. You will find that’s more work than it’s worth. You will have to go back and actually set up this scenario, from the beginning of your novel.

Ah, you argue, I’ll make them a doppelganger. That’ll take care of that twin thing.

Oh, I say. Then you’re going to make one of these look alikes good and the other evil. You did look up what doppelganger means. Right?

By now, you’re frustrated and ready to throw an editing pen at me. Go ahead. I’m doing my job. Making you think, and you’re seeing that your attempt to be lazy isn’t working.

One thing authors aren’t is lazy. We craft extremely complex stories. This means that we need to also craft individual descriptions and avoid repetition.


M.A. Cortez said…
Good points. Being lazy in our writing is an easy habit to fall into. That's why we need editors to call us out on it and make our stories shine.
Gaby Pratt said…
Avoid repetition - good point to remember. Thanks.

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