it Once, Say it
it. We're writers because we love words. We
love the way they
sound and we love the way they roll off our
tongues. We love to string
them together and give meaning to our
existence through them. Words are
our babies. And one of the toughest things
we must do as professional
writers is to weed through our creation and
eliminate the words that
don't pull their own weight.
one of the carnal sins of writers. We don't
trust our words to do
their job, or we don't trust our reader to
catch our meaning the first
time. So we repeat ourselves. Unfortunately,
any word that doesn't add
to a story detracts from it.
mean you can't save your clever words for
another use. As an
alternative to deleting your favorite groups
of words, keep a file on
your hard drive titled "Babies." Whenever
you write beautiful prose
that just doesn't fit your story, cut it
from your manuscript and move
it to this file.
little redundancies, the little repetitions
(like in this
sentence), the best alternative is death.
Let's take a look at an
cross-legged on the over-sized sofa. Her
life was about to change.
She peeked inside the envelope. The letter
in the envelope was neatly
folded. She took the letter out of the
envelope and opened it. She was
afraid of what it would say. She was
scared that Larry was giving her
the brush-off. Her trembling hands held
the paper open. With great
trepidation, she read the words that would
change her life forever. She
would never be the same again.
irritates us. Did the writer think we were
so bored we had
nothing better to do than read the same
thought over again? Or did the
writer just think we were too stupid to
catch on to what was happening?
My guess is that the writer was trying to
slow down the pacing and
the reason, we, as writers, don't want to
irritate our readers.
Therefore, we need to use care in choosing
words that best say what we
need to say, and then say those words once.
writer, you have to trust your words to do
their job and trust your
reader to do his. So, let's revisit Shelly's
letter and see what we can
do with it:
cross-legged on the over-sized sofa and
peeked inside the envelope.
She removed the neatly folded letter and
opened it. Her hands trembled
as she read the words that would change
her life forever.
but we can see the need to slow the pacing.
To do that,
we can add one of the following to the
- An action to show her concern: "She
wiped her palms
on the shirt Larry had given her."
- Something to give the depth of her
wouldn't be able to bear life without
- Or the use of other senses: "The letter
Old Spice. Shelly took a deep whiff and
imagined Larry sitting next to
her, holding her hand, rubbing her
knuckles, bringing her fingers to
his lips for a soft kiss."
also come in the form of a single word or
phrase. For example,
"free gift" or "sum total." In the original
example, it's the use of
the word envelope.
repeat ideas in a list, such as, "She was
tired, worn out, and
exhausted." Wouldn't just saying she was
exhausted serve the purpose?
What works even better is saying it with
creativity and action, like,
"Exhaustion hung to her like possums to
of repetition in your writing. Crisp prose
has no room for it.
Our text editors can help you identify
repetition in your work with our Editing
worksheets, and discussions, order your own
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Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques
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