I love to write.
I love to play with words.
I love my job.
Forgive me for repeating myself with the words "I love" in the above lines but I wanted to demonstrate how repeating yourself can be a wonderful writing tool. This form of repeating words is known as Anaphora and is used to give emphasis. Perhaps one of the most famous uses of this is the following quote from Winston Churchill:
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
As you may have guessed this post is about repetition, which is one of the three R's authors often use in their work. The other two are rhyme and rhythm.
Young children love repetition; it gives them something to listen out for. It allows them to anticipate a section of the story and join in. When I started to teach picture book writing I decided to invest in my own education, so got reading. I was amazed to discover how many ways you can repeat yourself. They include:
Where you take the last word of the previous sentence and start the next sentence with this word, for example:
"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
This time the repeated words are transposed (swapped around) for example from ‘Horton Hatches’ written by Dr. Seuss:
“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.”
Repetition of a word with one or more between it. As in this example taken from ‘Where There’s A Bear, There’s Trouble’
“Where there’s a bee there must be honey… sticky honey, yummy honey, drippy honey, runny honey…..”
This is similar to anadiplosis however the repeated word or phrase comes from the beginning of the first sentence and is placed at the end of the following sentence. For example this famous catchphrase from the entertainer Bruce Forsyth:
“Nice to see you, to see you, nice!”
Is similar to anaphora but the repeated words are at the end of the sentence or phrase for example this quote from the bible:
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought like a child.”
This is where the same word is repeated for emphasis for example a quote Winston Churchill:
“Never, never, never quit.”
Repetition also allows the writer to introduce a sense of rhythm to the words. For example in my book ‘Dog Did It’ which opens with Boris the troll eating something that disagrees with his stomach. His stomach begins to make noises:
“He felt his belly grumble and growl. It grumbled and it rumbled. It rumbled and it grumbled”
A little later Boris’s friend, Dog has the same problem:
“Dog felt his belly gurgle and bubble. It bubbled and burbled. It burbled and gurgle.”
As you can see by repeating words and mixing them with similar words the rhythm conveys the noises being made by Boris and Dog’s stomachs.
So don't be afraid to repeat yourself, it may just help you hook your reader.
If you want to discover how not to use one of the other R's, rhyme then check out this fab post by Juliet Clare Bell