🙅‍♂️ "No Lazy Repeats", He Repeated

Avoid repeating the same word over and over again.

Today’s Writing Tip:

Avoid unintentionally repeating the same word multiple times in a passage.

Explanation:

Writers often repeat words out of carelessness or laziness. The repeated word is usually a noun or adverb. While most readers do not notice lazy repeats, those who do will have their immersion shattered.

The worst lazy repeats sound like you doesn’t know any other words. If you use the word “quickly” six times in a row, the reader might begin to question your intellect and their sanity.

Lazy repeats are very hard to find. The best way to edit for them is to read out loud. Our ears are sharper than our eyes.

Examples:

Here’s an example of a lazy repeat from my own novel. Notice how I repeated the adverb “away”. I didn’t catch this before publication (and neither did my editor).

  • Lazy Repeat: “Her prints were washed away, and by the time I got to them, the sand was smooth again. I pressed my hind legs into the sand with force. Then, I stepped away and watched the next wave take it away.”

  • No Repeat: “Her prints were washed away, and by the time I got to them, the sand was smooth again. I pressed my hind legs into the sand with force. Then, I stepped back and watched my pawprint melt into the sea.”

Here’s an example of a lazy repeat with a noun:

  • Lazy Repeat: “The dog ran across the yard. He chased his tail around the trees in the yard as the owners sat in the yard and watched.”

  • No Repeat: “The dog ran across the yard. He chased his tail around the crabapple trees as his owners watched.”

Want more in-depth writing advice? Join my 12-Day Prose Masterclass today!

First, you will learn the 6 building blocks of prose:

  • Show, Don’t Tell: How to paint a picture with your words.

  • Description: How to describe scenes and characters.

  • Narration: How to control story dynamics and manipulate time.

  • Dialogue: How to write realistic and interesting speech.

  • Action and Behavior: How to create movement in your story.

  • Rhythm and Flow: How to make your writing flow smoothly.

Then, to put what you learned to practice, I’ll teach you:

  • World, Setting, Tone: How to write believable settings.

  • The Narrative Question: How to keep readers interested with hooks.

  • Pacing: How to control the speed of your story.

  • Inner Journey: How to share your characters' thoughts and feelings.

  • Setup and Payoff: How to deliver satisfying endings.

  • Story Patterns: How to recognize and use common plot patterns.

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