In one of my previous posts I talked, in passing, about repetition being the Devil. This piece of advice bears repeating (Pun-high-five!). And capitalisation.
Repetition Is The Devil
It does not wear Prada, but it does like flame bombing thesauruses. Writers should have it on T-shirts, badges, paintings, and written in icing on top of cupcakes. In the heat of the moment we are just trying to get words out, we pull the closest one out of our word bag and slap it on the page, it’s how we manage to force ourselves through however many thousands of words in 6 months (or one month if you’re boarding the Nanowrimo train like I am tomorrow).
You need to be vigilant as repetition is the first thing your readers are going to pick up. It is also the easiest thing to fix in an edit. The problem is it becomes so prolific, so insidious, like a giant killer octopus working its way into your house, that repetition needs its own concentrated editing pass to remove it. I do about five editing run throughs for each of my manuscripts and one of those is dedicated to the reduction and removal of adjectives, adverbs and repetitions.
You need to be careful when ferreting it out, repetition comes in more than your garden-variety mention-a-word-ten-times-in-one-page form (i.e. my use of the words ‘mad glint’ three times in as many paragraphs - pretty sure you don’t need an excerpt of that). That type is easily spotted, but the below, are less obvious:
In the end I could not let the Ruhle soldiers win again. I would not let them rain destruction and terror over the world for a second time. No matter what it did to me in the end.
Partial Word Repetition
The dwindling light highlighted his high cheek bones, the soft freckles and the piecing blue eyes, alert and worried.
It doesn’t matter that ‘light’, ‘highlight’ and ‘high’ are three separate words, you are essentially repeating ‘light’ and ‘high’ twice, when the sentence can easily be rewritten to avoid the clumsy word grouping. Just like you would try to avoid using ‘like’, ‘likely’ and ‘likelihood’ in the same sentence or paragraph.
In summary, sharpen your eyes and make yourself a t-shirt. And cupcakes.
To avoid any more repetition in this blog, I shall now stop.