I've been thinking about repetition and writing alot lately. Mostly since I started reading a book in my print book to be read pile when my kindle went wonkie.
This author (not a new one, and no, I won't point fingers or say names) likes to repeat things. A lot. It's an interesting story and a great premise. I even like the character, even if she's a bit predictable (the only thing that really separated her from most urban fantasy heroines was having a child- then the author swept that away- but that's an annoyance for another blog ;)).
Anyway- what is killing this book for me is repetition. She points out a fact or observation the character has. Then ten pages later, it pops up again...then again a few more pages. That combined with a very "lots of words but getting nowhere" style of writing has made it very difficult to keep reading. I feel like I'm reading in circles just a slight change in location.
So why do writers repeat things?
Repetition can actually be a good tool when used properly to connect the reader with the world or characters. Going back to a favorite haunt for the character, seeing a friend of theirs from time to time, subtly repeating a theme. All of those help to make a cohesive whole world for the reader.
But sometimes writers use it out of laziness or fear. Laziness in that while writing the writer fails to go back and fix repeats that happened while writing the rough draft. Having them in there is understandable- it takes so long to write a book it's easy to forget what you wrote six months ago. But not spotting them in later drafts, or worse, seeing them and you (and the editor) thinking it's ok ain't so good. It's not ok, it's a waste of words and reader time. And boring.
Fear comes from thinking the reader didn't get it the first time. If you tell me what the relationship is between two important characters once- I pretty much got it. The only time it should be brought up is if there is something new to add or something changes. If you want to reinforce something find more creative ways to do it than just repeating what you said 50 pages ago.
So that's my rant about repetition- what about you? Annoyed by it? Deal breaker? Don't really notice?