Have you heard the story about the goldfish? She was swimming in her bowl and passed the front entrance of the castle that decorated the small aquarium.
“Oh, I have a new castle!” she exclaimed. Then she went around the bowl again and spied the fortress once more.
“Oh, I have a new castle!” she exclaimed.
She went around again, and not remembering what’d she just seen she exclaimed once more, “Oh, I have a new castle!”
And again, “Oh, I have a new castle!”
And again, and again.
The moral of this story, beside the fact that goldfish have memories that only last for three seconds, is that you, the author, may forget you’ve written a particular piece, or pieces, of information in your story and repeat yourself. While you might not remember dispensing the information, you can bet, that like those of us who are laughing at this funny story, your reader will remember those words, phrases, and information that you’ve inadvertently added more than once.
Don’t get bent out of shape if you discover this in your work. It’s a natural result of writing a book over a long period of time. Most authors only write a few thousand words in any given day, and unless you’re writing a short story, blog post, or essay, it will probably take weeks, or months, before you’ve finished your project. With all the stuff that happens in between your times at the computer, it’s only normal you’d forget something you’ve already written, especially if you get in the zone and your muse or characters take over.
SO WHAT’S A WRITER TO DO?
Here are a few tips to help you catch those repetitions.
FOR REPETITIVE WORDS AND PHRASES: • If you know you’re fond of certain words or phrases, and you use them a lot, make a list and do a search for them at the end of each day’s writing. A quick way to search is by using the find function of Microsoft Word. Type in the word, ask the computer to highlight all forms, and see how often you’ve fallen victim to repetition.
• Eliminate repetitive words and phrases as you go. By doing this you will make the chore less bothersome at the end of the book. A daily reminder of your trouble words will also help prime yourself to catch them as you work.
• Reread the previous day’s work (or even a couple of days work if you’ve been away for a long time) when you sit down to write. By keeping what you’ve written fresh in your mind, you will be less likely to repeat yourself.
FOR REPETITIVE INFORMATION: • Keep a list of the important points/information you want to be sure to include in your story. When you’ve made that point, notate it, indicating where in the book you placed the information.
• Double check how many times your characters repeat a story or information. If the event or information they are revealing to another character has already been shown to the reader, if may not be necessary to repeat the whole story again. The author of Downton Abbey was a master at this technique. When something was being related to other characters that had happened in an earlier episode, he often had a one sentence referral to the incident. Enough to trigger the viewer’s memory, but not enough to bore one to death. For the written word, a simple She told him what happened at the skating rink and the character’s reaction to the story may be enough to get the point across without rehashing the information a second or third time.
• Consider becoming a plotter. When you draft your book’s scenes in outline form, chapter synopsis, or whatever works best for you (and follow them), the tendency to repeat oneself is reduced. Yes, you may still have to double check that you’ve eliminated those pesky repetitions, but you will find they are fewer and, hopefully, farther in between.
What tips do you have for eliminating repetition in your work?
Here’s a brief intro to my inspirational romantic suspense. I hope yo enjoy it.
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them by making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.
Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.
Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.
Last week was a blast. I traveled to 50 blogs, meeting most of these bloggers and readers for the first time. I was impressed by the questions asked and I was stumped on a few until I took time to work out what I thought about a few of them.
Read on. You’ll know which ones they were.
Q: Which character do you most relate to from your book? Congrats on the release.
A: Thank you for celebrating the release with me. I think I most relate to Riddle, who is sweet, magical, and even more reserved than I used to be.
Q: Where do you do most of your writing? Congrats on the release.
A: I do most of my writing at home and move around the house a lot. Sometimes I’m kneeling, other times standing, most of the time sitting, which I’m obviously trying to change. When you move the body, you move the mind.
Q: Do you plan on doing more writing while locked up due to Coronavirus?
A: I do plan to write more, with or without social distancing. I’m currently writing the final book in the Natural Gifts series.
Q: Did you design the cover of your book?
A: I turned cover design over to the very talented Victoria Cooper last year. She and I agree that Saunders’ Choice is our favorite cover in the series so far.
Q: Gina, What do you most enjoy about writing in this genre?
A: What I love about writing fantasy romance is all the magical beings I get to meet and the worlds they inhabit. Thanks for asking.
Q: My question for the author is: Is there a story, novel, movie, television series, etc.-that you would want to write a continuation of? I remember back in the ‘90’s when we got ‘Scarlett’, the sequel to Gone With the Wind. Any ideas?
A: I loved thinking about this question. There are two TV series that ended that I would love to see continued; Warehouse 13 and The Librarians.
Q: My question for the author is: Were you always intrigued by mermaids? Are you a fan of the Disney animated classic, ‘The Little Mermaid’? How about the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale?
A: I used to pretend to be a mermaid, diving to the bottom of my neighbor’s pool and looking for treasure chests. My daughter and I are now joined by my granddaughter when we watch Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid. I don’t believe I’ve read the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen yet.
Q: What is your current read?
A: I’m reading a contemporary romance right now – Charming You by Kris Jayne. It’s the first book in her Thirsty Hearts series.
Q: My question for the author is: Are you a big fan of any famous fantasy works, like ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Game of Thrones’?
A: I love this question. I love Harry Potter and Narnia. Two of my favorite fantasy worlds.
Q: Favorite color?
A: I am partial to most of the blues, purples, and greens. I think it shows up in my book covers.
Q:My question for the author is: Have you noticed any positive changes for women in your field, since you started writing professionally?
A: I have noticed prizes specifically for women authors and residencies for us. I see both of those as positive changes.
I told you it was fun!
Now for some news. I’m involved with two special events right now.
Chris Pavesic joins us today with a soup my family and I have been making since she posted the recipe on her blog. I have added vegetarian sausage to it for extra protein, or substituted the brown rice for chickpea-based orzo for the same reason. Vegetable broth is always used in place of chicken because my daughter is a vegetarian. No matter what I do with this recipe it comes out amazing.
1. In a large saucepan, combine onion, rice and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in flat saucepan. Gently cook mushrooms about 10 minutes or until brown and most of moisture has evaporated. Add mushrooms to stock. Stir in sherry and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
Makes 6 servings
While you eat your meal, why not enjoy a good book?
Two more bloggers featured Saunders’ Choice and I would like to say a special thank you to them; Sloane Taylor and C.D. Hersh. These talented authors have wonderful books for you to discover on their blogs.
Thank you for reading and good luck in the drawings.