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4 Repetition Sins you Might be Committing and Not Even Know It: Writing Tips from a Fiction Editor

Updated: Jul 30

4 Repetition Sins You Might be Committing and Not Even Know It: Writing Tips from a Fiction Editor

Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. —G.K. Chesterson

I'm not going to argue this sentiment, but I will add to it. People that have to read poetry can go mad!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to hate on poetry; there is a place for it. In fact, I think there is not nearly enough poetry in fiction these days—that is, cadence, rhythm, and presence. However, there are far too many writers out there who think they're poets and lay down such convoluted prose that readers start laughing out loud or dry heaving. Either one, maybe both.

Writing Tips from a Fiction Editor

I have recently read a fantasy that just about killed me to get through.

I'm not going to name any names—that's not a good look for me (and this person is gonna have a hard enough time as it is). However, I will go over some of its major issues so you can avoid making the same mistakes!

There are a ton of thing I could pull from this book as editor warnings, but I will focus on one are in particular:


5 Repetition Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs infographic

What is Repetition and Why Should You Care?

In fiction, repetition can be a silent killer, hindering the flow and impact of your story.

By inadvertently repeating certain elements, writers risk diluting the essence of their narrative and frustrating their readers. You increase the likelihood that the reader will put down the book because they feel like they are reading the same thing over and over again.

Repetition in its various forms in also a main reason writers get told their manuscript is "too long" by agents and publishers. Because when we see a book that repeats they same scene, image, or idea, it is a dead giveaway that most of the book's word count is probably filler.

So let's take a look at the best writing tips from a fiction editor for avoiding the skipping record style of writing.

We'll delve into the various repetition sins writers unknowingly commit, starting with redundant scenes, redundant imagery, redundant ideas/topics, redundant sentences, and finally, the overuse of repetitive words.

Repetition of Scenes

Scenes are there to display the important moments of your plot. That's it. If they don't do that, then they shouldn't be in your novel. But another problem many authors run into is the scene that moves the plot but then repeats itself.

Let me explain with an example...

Scene 1: John and Janet realize that they are in trouble if they cannot stop the Mage who controls the king. They discuss how they might stop him. They come to the only decision they can make.

Scene 10: Janet and John discuss the Mage again. They go over all their options just to make sure. They decide the decision they've made really is the best option.

In this case, either scene would need to be cut.

Imagine that you are telling your story to a group of cross-legged kids, impatiently waiting for you to get to the exciting parts. You wouldn't want to repeat anything you'd already said, would you? You would want to use as few words as possible, just getting to the gist of the action leading to the climax.