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Writing Advice & Discussion > How much is too much?

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Georgeson (lesliegeorgeson) | 58 comments Fellow readers and writers:

I'm running a discussion on my blog regarding how much repetition in a novel is too much. Please help answer this question by commenting on the post:

http://lesliegeorgeson.com/blog/how_m...

Thanks everyone!


message 2: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) I left a reply on the website...


message 3: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) @Silver Leslie means repetition as in expressions such as "her heart raced" or "his breath caught".


message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert Michael | 26 comments I'd say twice per chapter is alright. But if it's based on G.G.'s comment, then I'd make use of a thesaurus and insert "his heart thudded", or "his breath suspended" if it's gone on more than twice.


message 5: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) Silver wrote: "ohh ... my bad! :( I never got to her website so didn't know ... I will just remove my post then :)"

Your comment is valid. Why remove it? It's true that readers are educated and other kind of repetition should be minimized too.


message 6: by Silver (new)

Silver Snow (SilverSnow) | 75 comments G.G. wrote: "Silver wrote: "ohh ... my bad! :( I never got to her website so didn't know ... I will just remove my post then :)"

Your comment is valid. Why remove it? It's true that readers are educated and ot..."
lol .. I already removed :(


message 7: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 129 comments I try not to use a phrase more than once. screw twice. not in the same paragraph or page. the thesaurus is your friend! Use it! often!! fourth edition is best!


message 8: by Lena (new)

Lena | 172 comments Mod
Thesaurus: How many of us have read a comment wherein a critic of Twilight accuses Mayer of 'raping the thesaurus'? I have seen that a dozen times. So beware the thesaurus! I use it mostly to find just the right word, if I have one that is similar to what I'm trying to say but I know it's not right. Sometimes, the exact word escapes me and the thesaurus helps. But I would be cautious of using it too much (remember what happened to 'said'... it got so ridiculous that nowadays, we have to stick with the basics).

Repetition should be used deliberately, IMO. If it's there for a purpose, use it. One of my characters may have a nervous tick, so I'd repeat that whenever she was nervous. But, then you have to make sure your other characters don't do that, or everyone is pulling on their earlobes all the time!


message 9: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Georgeson (lesliegeorgeson) | 58 comments Yes, I was referring to an expression such as "he swallowed hard" or "her breath caught" or "her gaze skittered away..." I noticed while doing the final edit that I repeated some of these phrases several times throughout the book. For the most part, I deleted the recurrences, but I noticed that many authors have repeating phrases and as long as they are not in close proximity, they don't usually bother me as a reader. But I'm thinking more than two or three times in a book is probably too much.

Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the comments. :-)


message 10: by Lena (new)

Lena | 172 comments Mod
As long as you are aware of them, it could be a character quirk, so I wouldn't say you have to get rid of all of them. As long as only one character does it (like swallowing hard when he's nervous).


message 11: by Jim (last edited Oct 26, 2014 09:05AM) (new)

Jim Carnicelli (jimcarnicelli) | 71 comments The bulk of Verge of History: Rebirth is my main character's journal. She's not an author, so I purposely have her writing be a little rough-cut, but hopefully it's not too jarring. Repetition of single words and sometimes phrases is part of her style of writing and speaking -- a "character quirk", as Lena says. I try to stricken it from narrative prose and the secondary character's perfect-ish style of speaking, though.

I'll tie a haiku ribbon to honor victims of thesaurus rape.


message 12: by Silver (new)

Silver Snow (SilverSnow) | 75 comments I believe in simple language. Repetitions twice or thrice are acceptable. Plot and pace are what matters.


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