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Pete and Repeat were out in a boat

By on Sep 6, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

My brother used to torture me with this little rhyme: “Pete and Repeat were out in the boat, Pete fell in and who was left?”

Being the gullible little sister, I’d obligingly say “Repeat,” which he, of course, would do. Over and over and over.

In writing it’s easy to fall into repetition, getting stuck using the same words repeatedly throughout a piece. As the writer, you’re concentrating on the big picture and trying to tell the story. It’s easy to tune out the number of times you’ve used same word. After all, you know the subtle differences from one use to the next. But your reader will likely notice and soon get bored. Rather than grasp your wonderful ideas, the reader will get hung up on wondering what other delightful words you might have chosen.

If you’ve tuned out the repetition, how do you fix the problem? First, by being aware of it. As you edit the piece, pay attention to how often you have used the same word and sub in another. In some cases, it will be hard to find alternatives. In those situations, consider reworking the entire sentence or paragraph – you may come up with something even better than you had.

It’s true that this can be a difficult problem to catch if you don’t know you’re doing it. If you’re not sure, ask your editor – or a trusted friend with a sharp eye – to read your work being mindful of whether there is repetition.

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