Sunday, October 28, 2012
Writing Tips - Self-Editing and Repetition by Stephanie Burkhart
I'll be honest – after I finish my first draft and I start to tackle my editing, I discover a bunch of repetition. It ranges from using a certain word 3 times in a paragraph. (for example, door) to using a phrase several times in the span of 2-3 pages. (for example: she nodded) to using brand name like "Rolex," and "Mercedes" over and over.
It's time to find another word.
When a writer is writing, it's easy to become repetitive because you're so close to the material. Instead of intensifying the effect you want, you usually come off as condescending to the reader.
What can you do to be on guard? One idea is put the manuscript down for a little bit and don't think about it. Some writers wait 48 hours, some a week, some a month. The goal is to have a fresh set of eyes when you pick the story back up. Usually the repetitive word/phrase/brand sticks out. It tends to be easier to find and fix.
We all have our "catch phrases" and quirks so being mindful of them helps to catch the repetition and fix it.
There's another repetition that's good, if used appropriately, involving character traits. For example, when your character is worried, they might rub their temple. When they are upset, their stomach might tighten with knots.
I'd love to hear your questions, comments, thoughts, and suggestions. What works for you?
Reference for this blog: Self-editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN: 0-06-54569-0, 2004, 280 pages.
Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. In 1986 she joined the U.S. Army and served 7 years overseas in Germany. In 1997, she left the service and settled in Castaic, CA. She now works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. Her current titles with 4RV Publishing are The Giving Meadow and First Flag of New Hampshire. She married with two sons, ten and six. Her website is: http://www.stephanieburkhart.com