Today is Day 16 in the series, 31 Days of Writing Tips, written in conjunction with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes. Each post in this series has been written in five minutes flat on a particular writing prompt. Today’s prompt is: AVOID

Find more posts in this series here.



As an editor, I often notice unnecessary repetition in the writing I edit. Whenever possible, I encourage authors to avoid using the same noun, adjective, or adverb in the same sentence, paragraph, or maybe even whole page (depending on the situation).

Of course, there are times when writers use repetition intentionally to invoke a certain effect for the reader. But if you’re not doing it intentionally, stretch yourself to choose a broader variety of words.

Some programs such as Scrivener offer tools to show you the most frequently used words in your document.

You might also consider asking a friend, fellow writer, or editor to scan through your work to check for repeated words or phrases, since it can be quite difficult for writers to notice unintentional repetition in their own work.

If you’re editing your own work, start by checking the beginning words of each paragraph. For example, in one manuscript I edited, on one page, four out of five consecutive paragraphs started with, “The boy looked,” “The boy jumped,” “The boy stood,” “The boy turned.” In such an instance, rework the beginning words to convey the same message with more variety.

So my challenge for you today is: Read through your work paying special attention for unnecessary repetition. When you find it, figure out a more creative way to express your intended message.


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