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Repeated Phrases

Repeated Phrases
Repeated phrases are groups of two, three, or four identical words used too close together, regardless of whether they have the same meaning.

For example:

He stood and began pacing the length of the office. “I don’t understand,” he said.  He began pacing again between his desk and the door. “What do you make of it?”

Repeating the same phrase began pacing will annoy and bore your reader.  Look for ways to shake it up—here, you could say marched or walked rather than repeating the same word.

Related areas to look for in your manuscript

AutoCrit looks for repetitions within a range of a few paragraphs. This is great for finding obvious repetitions using common phrases. However, to find those unique and uncommon phrases that may be more dispersed throughout your manuscript, you will need use the Phrase Frequency Analysis.




The exception to the rule

Sometimes you do need repetition. Let your story and characters guide you.  For example, if you were writing about a character with obsessive-compulsive disorder, showing repetition would be a crucial element of characterization. Or if the murder weapon in your mystery novel is a vial of poison, you’d occasionally want to repeat the phrase vial of poison to subconsciously plant it in the reader’s mind.

The bottom line

Sure, sometimes repetition works. But most of the time, it’s better to eliminate or change repeated phrases.  It’s an easy fix with big impact.