Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The craft of rewriting-Revision-Self Editing-Repetitions
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: April 17, 2013
Repetitions are not bad when done for effect. If the writer has repeated words intentionally and with good reason, then a repeated word is not an error.
“... he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
The repetition of “yes” in this passage creates a breathtaking effect. Each time we read “yes” we aren’t distracted, but drawn into the emotion of the moment and Molly’s speech. And, no, we’ve not made a mistake; the original is orphaned of punctuation. Some more examples of necessary repetition are:
He touched his finger to his nose. A nose that had experienced many a fist.
Jacob traced her lips with his tongue, and her lips warmed.
She walked on the grass. Grass that would never be the same because her bare feet had touched it.
We mentioned in section XXX that with names, sometimes repetition is necessary. In these cases, we examine the repetition, determine that it must be repeated and leave it alone. It’s silly to refer to the same person as Mr. Jones, Professor Jones, the professor, the speaker, and James Jones. In these cases we’d use either he or the name we’ve given him. Use one name and stick to it.
The problem we’re looking for with repetition is when it is unintentional. We search the manuscript for too many articles, or crutch words, or the same adjective at close quarters. There is a wonderful program called Repetition Detector at:
This program will cut down a writer’s editing time greatly. We still must search the document to ensure we’ve covered them all. Names used like we’ve just discussed won’t show on the detector, but we recommend writers use this program when editing.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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