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Writing Tip: Watch out for Word Repetition
Contributor
Written by
Maria Murnane
December 2019
Contributor
Written by
Maria Murnane
December 2019

When I pick up a novel, I want to forget about reality and get lost in a fantasy world, as I imagine every reader does. Anything that gets in the way of that and yanks me back to the real world hinders my enjoyment. 

One thing that pulls me out of a story is when I see a word repeated multiple times in the span of a sentence or two—and not for emphasis. When this happens, I forget the plot and fixate on the repetition. Then I wonder how no one caught it in the editing process. Then I wonder how much the editor got paid for doing a mediocre job, or in the case of an indie book, if an editor was hired at all. Do you see what I mean? Mind yanked. Enjoyment hindered.

For example, here are some snippets from a novel I recently read:

The next day was wonderful. We set sail from Catalina Island early, and the weather was postcard beautiful. Clear, brilliant blue skies watched over us as we sailed toward the coast under full sail.

Here’s another example:

It was crowded on the bus, but the tightly packed group was in good spirits. As we jostled along the dirt road back to the campground, I held on tightly to a handrail. 

Words like “sail” and “tightly” aren’t ones I come across frequently, so the above examples jumped out at me enough that I set down my Kindle, reached for my phone, and snapped a photo. Instead of enjoying the story, I was planning this blog post. That’s not the experience you want your readers to have, so be careful. 

-Maria

Maria Murnane writes bestselling novels about life, love and friendship. Have questions? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  • Maria Murnane

    @Patricia, if there are unusual words you tend to overuse, the "find" tool in Word is helpful. Otherwise, it's a matter of getting used to keeping an eye out when reading your own work-- and asking your beta readers to point things out that you don't notice. My mom is good at that for me. :)

  • Aniee Baily

    great learning skill great point and easy to understand thank you for helping such a great writting and repitition.
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  • Patricia Robertson

    Great point, and so easy to miss when writing. Do you have any suggestions for helping us catch those repetitions?