If You’ve Said It Once, You’ve Said It A Million Times

Don’t you just love people who will tell you the tales of their lives over and over with a slightly different twist each time. They entertain us and often make us reflect on simpler times. There is nothing quite like an amazing storyteller.

I’ve been there before, only my retold stories are not nearly as exciting after my husband has heard them a thousand times. You at home mom’s know what I’m talking about, that whole I need to talk to more adults than preschoolers, or else’s it’s lean over and cut the bosses’ meat at your husband’s next company party.

Yeah, we can occasionally be so excited to talk to someone over the age of five that we repeat stories without realizing it.

The first story teller is exciting and entertaining. The second situation is just plain redundant. Redundant will kill off readers quicker than passive verbs.

Where should you avoid redundancy in your novel?

Dialogue. No one likes to be told the same thing over and over again. Characters who say the same things multiple times to make sure the reader got it, insults the reader.

There are some similar words that make up a character’s vocabulary. It is okay to use these to bring out the character, but it should be varied from character to character.

Clues. A clue is placed merely to give a reader a hint at what is really happening in the novel. You do not want to repeat the clues for your reader, or it will eliminate some element of surprise. Beat an idea of something over someone’s head and they will get it and ultimately guess the ending.

Personality. You wouldn’t have six villains in one novel, so don’t duplicate the other personalities either. The diversity of cast is what makes readers love a book. You want them to be unique with their own quirks and habits.Word Choice. All authors have pet words. Ask your crit buddies what your pet words are and then do a find and replace. You should be sure to fluctuate your word choices, especially verbs or unique words.

Plot. If your story is just like four or five others on the market, you need to find a twist. Something that makes it fresh, or why read it.

Setting. Some settings will repeat themselves in your novel. For example, a police officer is likely to have some scenes at a police station. Otherwise, you should mix up your fluctuating scenes a lot to incorporate a wide range of settings.

Develop a rich setting pallet that can appeal to more readers. It will also allow you to transform the mood of the scene through setting more easily.

What redundant things drive you crazy when you are reading a book?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

6 thoughts on “If You’ve Said It Once, You’ve Said It A Million Times

  1. Amy Hahn says:

    Nice reminders, Michelle! I caught myself starting each chapter with my heroine waking up each morning…duh. My mom keeps telling me that she is suspicious of authors who repeat themselves, she thinks they are just making word count minimums. If it were only based in something that easy!

  2. Pat Trainum says:

    Great post! One of my peeves is the hero/heroine telling me over and over why they can’t be together. I get it already!

  3. I hate redundant word choice. Or redundant description. (Okay, I get it that he smells like detergent…) Drives me crazy and jumps out at me immediately. I’m pulled from the story with the thought of, “you said that already…”

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    I’m with you Jennifer. It makes it seem like you are on the wrong page.

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