Do you have writing habits that cause repetition?
By Lisa Brown
You may not have any challenge in expressing yourself through your writing, but there’s a common mistake that many writers make and sometimes, without noticing it. That is, repeating yourself.
Readers can detect repetitive words or phrases from a piece of writing.
It may slow down the way they internalize your message and in turn affect their response to your manuscript writing.
We repeat ourselves maybe because of focus on SEO rankings. Or it could be that we often use those particular words or phrases, over and over again.
Since repetition mostly occurs without us noticing it, the following are ways to help you reduce and even avoid repetition when writing your manuscript.
Vary your sentences
Repetition isn’t limited to words. It is possible to repeat the structure of a sentence. A common problem with sentence structure is starting them in the same way. Your readers may lose interest in your writing if your sentences lack variation.
Change the rhythm, length and even the syntax of your sentences to make them dynamic and exciting to the readers. You don’t want your story to sound like a list of ideas by using the same words to start your sentences. Try other ways to write your message.
Refrain from using long words
While many may have the notion that using overly long words or complex ones, may make one sound intelligent, the opposite is sometimes true.
If you can convey the same meaning with a shorter or simpler word, then, go for it. English grammar is rich, and you can never be short of words, perhaps ideas.
Also, you don’t want the readers to need a dictionary every time they read through your material, do you?
Invest in a thesaurus
A thesaurus comes in handy when you want to eliminate repetition. You can look up any of your commonly used words and replace it with one that has the same meaning. The Grammarly checker has a built-in thesaurus, which makes it very practical to use as you are writing.
However, many take the use of one too far and pile their piece of writing with complicated words that may not even mean what they intended.
As you use a thesaurus, use it wisely and sparingly. You don’t want your efforts to avoid repetition to appear clumsy or obvious.
Replace your character’s name with a pronoun
There are words that you can repeat with immunity. That is, the reader is less likely to see it as a repetition.
Pronouns fall into this category. When referring to your characters, it is okay to use their proper pronouns, once in a while.
Reading your manuscript aloud will help you find a balance between proper names and pronoun use. However, you should ensure that the reader understands who you are referring to or who is talking.
Read through your writing
You may not have time to practice manuscript editing as you write down your ideas.
If not, you have to work on building the scripts and ensuring that there is a flow of ideas first, before you go back to proofreading the document. Once you are through with noting down the message you want to pass across, then go through it.
Here, you need to develop an “ear” for repetition. By going through it, you will be able to minimize and reduce any repetitive words or phrases.
Break up your sentences
Some of you, like me, tend to use long sentences. But most long sentences are riddled with repetition. To overcome this, you can use several short sentences to convey your thoughts.
As you do this, you will be able to eliminate unnecessary words that are often the case with long sentences.
Short sentences are also easily absorbed as opposed to long sentences. Though, you should consider the use of both in your document as they have more impact, when combined.
Avoid wordy expressions
Using phrases with too many words in our writing is common. If you can use an expression with two or fewer words, to mean the same thing, then, it’s a better option. Be precise in what you want to pass across.
Don’t make simple issues more complicated than they are.
Shorten your paragraphs
According to the American Psychological Association, Publication Manual, one may lose readers if they use articles that are longer than one double-spaced manuscript page. If your paragraphs are long, you should look for a logical position to break them.
If breaking is not possible, then, you can resort to reorganizing your material. In a single paragraph, you shouldn’t try to use more than 125 words. Readers want to get to the point in the shortest time possible, give them that.
Be clear in your narrative
When you are taken away by your thoughts and jotting them down, it common to find yourself rambling; especially, if you are targeting an online viewership.
Highlight your main points and let them be easy to find and understand by your readers.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t spice up your words. Use succinct but precise wordings. A concise document makes it easy for the audience to stick with you, throughout the narrative.
It’s okay to use the same words, at times
Use of repetitive words can help you build a rhythm in your sentences. It’s fine to repeat some words. As I stated earlier, there are words that you can repeat with near impunity. Pronouns for one and words like “more.”
If you apply deliberate repetition, consciously and strategically, it may prove to be effective.
In a story, the word “said” is often invisible to the reader. Depending on your character, you may not need to have to place the word “said,” to tag his or her words.
Repetition can be avoided by applying several if not all of the outlined points.
You can also read the work of the authors that you admire and gauge what techniques they use to avoid repetition. Read your manuscript out loud or to a friend.
Take note of any words that often occur throughout the document. Make the necessary changes using a thesaurus or even eliminate the phrase if they are not required.
Lisa Brown works as a content manager. She is specialized on writing useful articles for writers, students and people who want to improve their writing skills. Her hobby is reading, travelling and blogging. Lisa`s life motto is “Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”.