There is a rule I’ve heard (from authors) that you shouldn’t repeat the same word within the same paragraph (referring to adjectives, adverbs, and verbs), or if it is a word you don’t hear often like “gargantuan” you shouldn’t use it more than once in a whole piece.
I believe this writing rule and I will explain why.
Writers shouldn’t repeat the same word(s) in a single paragraph or in the same scene, because it only shows a writer’s weaknesses.
For example: if you are writing a fight, you will find that you tend to repeat the same sort of action verbs over and over again. There are only so many ways to describe the action, but that’s where you have to get creative, search a thesaurus, or use Google to find alternative words, because recycling the word “slammed” gets old rather quickly. A reader will immediately notice the overuse of such a word, and then the fight scene you wrote won’t flow as well.
Here are other verbs to try for a fight:
|Photo by Chrys Fey|
There are a lot more than I could think in one sitting so go ahead and use them all!
A fight isn’t the only event that this rule applies to, but any type of event you may be writing (childbirth, a love scene, torture, etc.) If you overuse a word that describes an action in a single scene, you threaten killing it. And no, I am not being a dramatic writer. When you write a word repeatedly, and in close proximity, you literally risk that word from losing its impact and meaning. But more importantly, you put your work in danger of becoming boring and lazy, if all of your action scenes repeat the same verbs.
This is especially true for a powerhouse word. A powerhouse word is a word that you don’t hear every day, or even read in every book. Like: magnanimous, lickerish, bombastic . . . Using these words is great, but since they stand out so much only use them once! And make sure you’re not just using them to have them in your book, but that they have a real purpose.
TIP: Keep a list of words that you can look at, so if you're tempted to overuse a specific word (such as a verb) you can quickly check your list of favorite synonyms to swap it out with. This idea can even be used for alternative words/phrases to begin sentences.
QUESTION: Do you agree or disagree with this rule? Why or why not?