All right. Let’s try that again.
When editing for fluency, I quickly get hacked off at all the repeated words I use. Every time I think I’ve picked them all up, I discover more. In order for your prose to move fluidly, you need to rid your text of words you repeat numerous times. Otherwise the writing becomes clunky and forgettable, and boredom results. Repeated words are a fast way to render your work ordinary.
This small demonstration shows you several benefits using a wider vocabulary can bring.
- Beauty. The prose reads well and slips off the tongue.
- Efficiency. A good vocabulary can help tighten wordy sentences.
- Pace and brevity. The second paragraph feels shorter and faster than the first, even though the difference is a mere nine words.
The words I fall into the trap of repeating include the following:
There’s nothing wrong with the words themselves. The only issue is that when I’ve talked about “eyes” for the fifth time in four sentences, it can get a little monotonous. I’ve come up with a few rules for myself:
- Don’t use special words (e.g. “lunge”, “ridiculous”, “multi-faceted”) more than once in the same page.
- Don’t use ordinary words (e.g. “but”, “yet”, “very”, “face”) more than once within four paragraphs.
Naturally, words such as “and”, “to”, “the”, “a”, and so on, will always be repeated. These words are what I think of as “the invisible words”. No one notices that you’re repeating them, because they are the very fabric of sentences. Less ordinary words will stick out. For instance, I’m so obsessive I hate repeating the word “sword” twice within a paragraph. I interchange “blade” and “weapon” for it instead. In the case of something like “eyes” or “face” – these words have very few acceptable synonyms – I see if I can cut out the reference altogether. Nobody wants to hear you talking about “blue orbs” or “amber spheres”, after all.
Editing Tip for Fluency No #2: Get rid of needless repetitions or substitute them with acceptable synonyms.
Beautiful prose is everything.