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Choose Your Own Writing Strategy - Tip #5

I must confess - this tip is more about my own personal (some would definitely say weird) quirk, rather than a general writing tip. But there you go.

I have a particular bugbear with repetition.

In the 'real world', I'm a content writer and copy editor for courses that are usually narrated and when you listen to text, it's really irritating to hear the same words over and over again. Now, unless you're writing for audible books, you might think that this doesn't matter, but when we read, we usually do have our own voice narrating the story in our head.

"You walk along the corridor until you reach a junction. The corridor to the left leads to a steep staircase and the corridor to the right leads to a closed door. Which corridor do you choose?"

Now, maybe it's just me, but all those 'corridors' are annoying.

[And yes, I deliberately chose the word 'annoying' because I've already used 'irritating' in this blog.]

"You walk along the corridor until you reach a junction. The passageway to the left leads to a steep staircase, but if you head right, you'll end up at a closed door. Where do you want to go now?"

Same information, but without the jarring repetition. Don't get me wrong though - there is a place for it sometimes.

For example, I've written 'over and over again' because that gives emphasis to the sentence and where would our gamebooks be without the ubiquitous 'Turn to...'? As a rule though, I try to keep it to a minimum.

My tip to help with that probably reveals more about me than I'd like, but here goes: My name is Vicky and I love stationary.

And before you ask - of course it's a Moleskine notebook!

Together with my trusty thesaurus, I have collected the verbs that I use a lot - walk, look out, head towards etc - and made a list of all their synonyms. I love making lists. Almost as much as I love buying new notebooks...

So read your text aloud to yourself. The repeated words tend to stand out and interrupt the flow, so then you can tweak it by substituting an alternative. Easy peasy!

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