Authors Worst Mistakes — Repetition in Word Use

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Too often a writer repeats words or phrases in excessive amounts. It is what they are familiar with and comfortable with. That can be a problem for most writers. In fact, very few aren’t faced with this. Habits are hard to break. That includes words. We tend to use the same ones over and over again. The problem is that the reader notices and gets bored quickly.

Let’s look at where authors need to be repetitive.

Dialogue tags are the pieces of narrative attached to dialogue. Examples are:

He said

She asked

They replied

Get the picture? Some of these can be overused to extremes.

One big example is an overuse of the dialogue tag of ‘said’. Some authors use this with every single bit of dialogue. I literally mean every single time someone speaks in their story. This gets old very quick. The author might change it out to “asked”, but even that can get over used. I’ve seen authors overuse the same adverbs over and over and the same phrases. It makes the writing sound too juvenile.

I was listening to an audiobook and found myself cringing. The writer had “said” after every single piece of dialogue. Instead of enjoying the story, I found myself just listening for the next “said”. I couldn’t finish it. Decided to give the print version a try. Same thing. I felt like the writer thought I was too dumb to comprehend any other type of dialogue tag.

Vary your dialogue tags. Add depth to your story.

Too many authors use the same verbs over and over. There are so many other words for “run” than that one that is used over and over. Using the same one again and again gets old. Use a thesaurus to find other words that can be used and give your writing depth. Sprinted. Dashed. Jogged. Each of these gives the reader a different image as they read.

I find myself using familiar and comfortable words when I write the first draft of my story. That’s okay as I get the thoughts and plot out, but in the final draft I should remove these repeated words and replaced them with more descriptive ones that create a story one can enjoy reading.

There is a movement to eliminate adverbs completely. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating. But there is a large number of people who would like to see less of them as there are plenty of verbs out there to describe the actions that an adverb and verb combined portray.

As a writer, you need variety in your writing. You need to have a wide vocabulary that allows you to use the English language to its fullest. Use verbs that are descriptive instead of too many adverbs. I can’t say it enough — Give your writing depth.

Ask a friend to read your work. You will be able to see some of your repetitive writing, but there will be quite a bit that will glance over. Another set of eyes can see what you can’t.

Work on expanding your vocabulary. Challenge yourself to use different words in your writing. You’ll be surprised how much fun that can be.

Written by

Writer for ten years, lover of education, and degrees in business, history, and English. Striving to become a Renassiance woman.

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