On Repetition

“When we came out of the theater, we all agreed: the film was a waste of money, a waste of time, and a waste of energy.”

Ah, repetition.

People, particularly presidents of countries, cult leaders, and motivational speakers, use it frequently in speeches made to huge crowds. In this scenario it usually works well, gets folks on board, riled up, ready to drink the Kool-Aid.

Other people, like parents, also use it in speeches, sometimes very loud speeches, made to their offspring. In this scenario it has about a 50/50 chance of getting the desired result unless you parent as I do, with the occasional threat of bodily harm or, worse, the cancelation of somebody’s cell phone service. I know, threatening is not a politically correct parenting tactic but from my perspective it works, as evidenced by the disappearance of the small, crawling pests that used to shop my kid’s room like a Costco.

Often though, repetition is simply proof that the writer has never been properly introduced to a thesaurus. (It’s also proof that the writer doesn’t read, but I’ll beat that drum another day.)

Speaking of repetition, repeat after me: Thesaurus.com is your friend and Powerthesaurus.com is your best friend.

I don’t know how anyone – professional writers, business people, students – anyone, writes without consulting Thesaurus.com or Powerthesaurus.com. They’re always open on my computer, as are Google and Urban Dictionary, and I use them constantly.

Let’s say I’m writing about the menu at a restaurant, and let’s say it’s a five-star restaurant. How many times can I use the word food before the reader faints from boredom? Once. Maybe twice. People, I implore you, think. It’s a five-star restaurant. It doesn’t serve food. It serves cuisine, fare, a rare treat for your taste buds, gastronomic delights, died-and-gone-to-Heaven deliciousness.

What would you rather eat – food, or died-and-gone-to-Heaven deliciousness? That’s right: died-and-gone-to-Heaven deliciousness. And your reader would, too.

Repetition, when used properly, is a powerful tool.

Repetition, when used because you’re too lazy to crack open a thesaurus and find new, fun, interesting, cool, thought-provoking, exciting synonyms is a sure fire way to put your reader to sleep.

I have spoken. Don’t make me repeat myself.

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