Pardon me if I repeat myself

Here’s a quick lesson if you want to look for evidence of some effective writing in whatever book you’re reading, or if you want to provide some in whatever you’re writing.
Example 1:  “Very soon after she sat down she determined that she was very hungry when she watched the person at the next table bite into a very big hamburger.”
Example 2:  “She thought of him when he awoke each morning and thought of him again when she watched the children playing in the park as she walked to work.  She thought of him countless times as she went about the routine business of her day and when she ate her dinner in a restaurant. Finally she thought of him every night when she closed her eyes and waited for the blessing of sleep.”
Both examples contain repetitions.
In the first one the writer  screwed up and used “very” much too often.
In the second the writer uses “thought of him” even more often.  But this time it’s obviously for effect, to show us that this woman misses someone constantly.
The first writer is repeating himself, having failed to wordsmith or edit sufficiently.  The second is using cadence, the intended repetition of words or phrases to show something he wants his readers to “get” without bluntly telling them. Showing (proving) is almost always better than telling, in writing and in life.
I teach my writing students a simple mantra to chant (silently I would hope) as they write or do yoga or the laundry:  “Cadence is good; repetition is bad.”

 

 

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