writers tips / writing

Writers Tip #56: Don’t Repeat Yourself

writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Don’t repeat yourself.

Or, put another way: Trust your audience. If you’ve written a compelling story, they will remember the details. When you repeat something, they’ll be insulted you didn’t trust them. That’s a bad place to be with your audience.

Lots of novice authors feel they must repeat the most important plot details because they are critical to the story. Maybe it happened in the first twenty pages of the book and you’re now on Page 333. Here’s what I do: I say it a different way. Maybe I come at it from someone else’s perspective–show how they see this tidbit as opposed to how my earlier character did. I might also add it to dialogue–a legitimate way to summarize a plot, remind the reader where we are in the story.

How do you accomplish this tricky piece of writing?

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8 thoughts on “Writers Tip #56: Don’t Repeat Yourself

  1. Pingback: Writers Tips #84: 20 Hints that Mark the Novice Writer | WordDreams...

  2. Pingback: Teen Book Review–Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor | TL Sumner

  3. Repetition is one of my character flaws. My husband frequently reminds me that he’s heard me “in detail, multiple times”. I see the beauty of nixing this redundancy thing, though, especially in writing.


    • This ‘delete duplicates’ is just for writing. In the real world, redundancy rules. There’s the rule of 7 in sales–ask for the sale 7 times because it takes that long to go from not hearing, to hearing, to listening to considering to saying yes. Then among us teachers, repetition is still the key to learning.


  4. When I read the title of this post I thought it would have to do with details versus big plot points. I hope my readers will remember the big ones. The family and friends I have reading my ms will hopefully note if they forgot something and had to go back and I’ll be able to fix it. My problem is with writers that repeat small details 2523453452345 times, like the color of their character’s eyes.


    • Good point, Michelle. It’s those annoying repeats–like eye color that readers are unforgiving about most. One of the big advantages of digital books is you can search back through the book to find the detail you forgot. Soon, we authors will simply link the reader to a character profile.

      Thanks for visiting.


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