Mistake 26: Saying the Same Thing Over and Over Again

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: The reader gets it the first time, yet many new writers don’t understand this. A fact, a character’s emotion, a key clue, or an element of foreshadowing—new authors are tempted to pound the information home again and again to make sure the reader gets it. But the key word there is pound. Readers don’t like to be pounded. The first time someone reads something, she gets it. The second time, she’ll figure it’s really important. The third time, she’ll start to get irritated.

The solution:
Trust your readers. They understand that everything they read has significance. Remember, too, that if you overemphasize something, you’re downplaying other aspects of your book. Everything in a book, every little detail, must serve some purpose (hopefully several purposes). Beating the reader to death with repetition can give away the important clue in your murder mystery, or your antagonist’s plan in your thriller, or other key plot points. If you don’t beat these key plot points to death, the reader won’t be able to discern which of all the plot points are the key ones, and which are the red herrings.

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