Repetitive words and how to avoid them

Repetitive words and how to avoid them…

Last week, inspired by my UFC-level children, I decided to write a blog on action scenes. I sat down, researched my blog, wrote it and then ran it through Grammarly for a check. With corrections made, I ended up with a score of 92. Feeling proud of my writing superiority, I sent it off to my editor and went to bed pleased that I had made my deadline and submitted a quality piece of work. You know that old saying about fools and plans, right?

The next morning, I woke up and logged in to my email. My editor messaged me, and we started talking about the blog. She informed me that while the blog was good, I had managed to use the word “fight” twenty-seven times.  After we stopped laughing, and my face stopped being the color of puce, we talked about books that we had read where the language choices had become repetitive.

How many times have you opened a book that looked promising and had a good plot, but you lost interest due to the word choices being redundant? Here are three quick tips to consider while you’re writing…

Developing an ear – read it out loud for Heaven’s sake!

Little side note about me, I’m a very visual person, so reading out loud does not come naturally to me, unlike my mother and sister who are both auditory processors. This has been something I have struggled with over the years and have learned to get into the habit. Read your work out loud to hear how it sounds to you. You are more likely to catch grammar mistakes when you read out loud and your ear might catch repetitive words easier.

Pronouns are your friends!

Proper names can be overused when authors write. As writers, we want to make sure the reader is identifying the correct character in passages so the use of a character’s name might feel overused. The character’s pronoun helps the writing flow better. Consider the difference between these sentences:

  1. Karen walked over to the water to swim. Karen looked around to make sure no one saw Karen disrobed.
  2. Karen walked over to the water and turned around to see if anyone was watching her disrobe.

I realize how oversimplified the first choice sounds, but I bring that up for a reason. A writer is only as good as their finished product and independent writers are responsible for all quality control since they do not have a team of editors at their disposal. I have read indie books where the quality of the writing is as good as the first sentence they wrote.

Thesauruses and other tools are also your friends…

You’re an author and you don’t own a thesaurus? No problem, if you are using Word to write, the program has a built-in one. You’re not using Word and you’re not sure if your software has a built-in thesaurus? That’s okay. Use Google. My point—have something on hand to look up synonyms for common words. If I thought to do so when I was writing my blog last week, I could have easily found forty different words for “fight”.

Final thoughts…

If you are using a program like Grammarly to check your errors and are depending on it to catch repetitive words, consider a few things. The free version of Grammarly is absolutely wonderful but unless you splurge for the full version, it will not point out any repetitive language. You would have to click on individual words to see any suggested alternatives. A friend of mine suggested to try ProWritingAid. I did some research and found a few other free options to try out next week that promise to be as comprehensive as Grammarly. Stay tuned for my blog next week! Till then stay safe!


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