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REPEATING YOURSELF

October 16, 2019

Okay, I’m over twenty-five, so basically, I’m like…old! What’everrrr…

Given that extreme disability, and after all, I really AM a grandpa, I’m allowed to repeat myself. That’s a given.

However, when you do it just to annoy your friends and family, or simply don’t care is one thing. When you do it unintentionally, and not because you’re losing your marbles (let’s not even go into that reality here), that’s something different.

As authors, we write hundreds upon thousands of words, from hourly to daily to annually. We write one-off stories to series.

It goes without saying, we’re going to write something that eventually repeats.

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Here’s the real clincher for you.

What’s the harm?

Absolutely nothing.

Well…there IS a caveat to that.

Unless you’re out to slander or damage someone, repeating something you said basically does nothing but maybe, and I mean maybe annoy your reader…if that.

TO SLANDER OR DAMAGE SOMEONE

Look at the news, juicy gossip and snide innuendo. This stuff tends to be repeated endlessly.

Don’t think this stuff is restricted to just newspeople. It’s just as prevalent in literature from both sides of the aisle. I’ve seen plenty of fictional stories ruined by it.

MORE BENIGN WAYS

Now, more to my point here today, the sneaky ways repeatability gets into our lives as writers.

The prime example is me, here at Fred Central. I can’t even tell you exactly (at the moment) what number article this one is, but it’s getting close to #300 since I started this blog back in 2012. Since I write about writing, there’s bound to be repeated subjects in there. Not only have I revisited (my term for repeating things), but I’ve flagrantly (a few times), recycled old articles. Why? It was not only time, but many of you weren’t even around Fred Central in 2012 or 2013 when I started this whole thing. It’s also not likely you’re going to slog through all my old articles looking for them.

So…repeatability isn’t going to kill anyone.

Plus, I’m not reluctant to occasionally (well, maybe sometimes more than that) hammer home certain points when I’m on a rant.

After all, writing is my platform as well as my passion. Writing is what I do.

On the other hand…

REPEATABILITY AS PART OF YOUR FICTION OR NON-FICTION

When you write a memoir or non-fictional account, the best way is to try not to keep repeating the same thing over and over again. I’ve read many bios where the author kept repeating the same incidents over and over again, incrementally changing details or referring back to the same things as the rest of their life progressed. Tell it once, which is enough, then move on. It just makes the story flow better. I was still fascinated by things, but even admittedly by the author themselves, they could’ve edited things down a bit better.

Historical accounts you would think should be linear. They should be, unless the author doesn’t take a linear approach, and due to disjointed timelines, keeps overlapping and repeating the same stuff.

Now, as far as fiction goes, repeatability creates issues when the author uses multiple points of view, but doesn’t write in a linear fashion. They create a separate timeline for each character, which means, they repeat the exact same time-space for each character, as told through their eyes. While this is great for keeping within the head of each character, it also repeats an awful lot of the exact same things over and over again.

Now, given a multi-character story where everything happens in real time, but linear, with no repeatability of the same sequence, except minimally, that’s great. It’s much easier on the reader.

REPEATABILITY OF PLOT OR DEVICES

This is far more common than the others.

The author has a favorite plot device, or has characters do something over and over again. This is especially true for series writers.

Then again, some authors agonize over never repeating themselves to the point they hardly ever publish a book. This also provides a conundrum for their readers because they never know whether they’re going to love or hate their next book.

One reason I like and stick with an author is because I like what they write. Usually.

Why?

Repeatability.

They don’t repeat the same story over and over again. They repeat the same quality of writing, the same character or characters, the same style, and most importantly, the same theme in their writing. They give me AC/DC and don’t fix something that isn’t broke!

Happy writing!

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