Why do Authors use Repetition?

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Repetition is an almost unconscious tool used by authors. I noticed the word “gun” was repeated over 30 times in a novel i just finished reading. Now, as i read, i pay more attention to an author’s motive for repetition.

Why does the author keep repeating? Authors make use of repetition to create a connection in the reader’s mind. Repetition is used to make a point, link ideas, emphasize a word, give rhythm and create a flow. The reason for repetition varies based on the writer and use.

Why Repetition is Used in Writing?

Repetition is a rhetoric device that authors use to emphasize a word or idea in a text. Repetition simply means using the same word, phrase or clause more than once. Another word for repetition is reiteration.

An author makes use of repetition to this effect in your mind. You get to;

  • Pay special attention: If you keep seeing a particular word in a book you are reading, you would, either consciously or not, pay closer attention to that word. It is like when you’re watching a movie and a character says the word, “sly” often. Before long, you are able to predict the moment when that character will use that word again.
  • Remember details: An author might be introducing a creative word that is not in a dictionary. In order to help you remember that word and its meaning, the author makes use of the word often. Details about a particular scene that would normally skip your mind, do not when the author repeats a catchphrase.
  • Feel the emotion: When you feel deeply about a subject or explaining an interesting event to a friend, you will find that you keep mentioning a key phrase or word repeatedly. It is the same effect an author tries to create for the reader. Public speakers also use repetition to covey a deep conviction to their audience. An instance is Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”.
  • Pick up a rhythm: “It is good, It is bad, It is ugly” This sort of repetition gives a form of rhythm to the text. Repetition is used in poems to set some sort of tone. It gives the poem a kind of sing-song rhythm.
  • See a continuation: Authors can use repetition to help the reader to see a link between one part of the text and another. Some authors make use of a phrase from the text to end the text.

Do Authors Use Repetition to Reinforce The Theme?

The use of repetition in a text helps the author keep the main message in the mind of the reader. You will find that the central idea of the book you are reading, is closely tied to the word or phrase often used in the book. Your attention is often drawn to it. It will be the first thing you remember when you talk about the book. It could be a word that conveys a particular emotion.

This is one of the reasons why repetition is more strongly used in poems than in other genres. Poetry is an art closely tied to emotion. Repetition is an easy tool for conveying strong feelings about a subject.

Poets use repetition to figuratively jab at a particular point over and over. In the end, you are left with no doubt as to what the theme is. An instance is William Ernest Henley’s ending of ‘Invictus’ with the repetition of the clause “I am”.

“I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul”

When Does Repetition Become Redundant?

There is however a thin line between good use of repetition and overkill. If a writer uses a word or a phrase too much, it loses its meaning to the reader. The word or phrase is said to have become redundant. Your attention is focused on the word or phrase so much that it starts to seem meaningless.

Seeing a word or a particular idea repeated over and over in a book can get slightly annoying. You sometimes wonder if there are no other words.

There is really only a small difference between repetition and redundancy. You want to be sure your article or book is not full of redundant words. If a word appears on an average of 10 times in a 30-word article, you might need to review the use of that word.

How does repetition affect tone?

Repetition is used to set a certain tone in a poem. It creates a rhythm and might give the poem a certain sense of urgency.

What is the difference between alliteration and repetition?

Alliteration is the repeating of a certain consonant sound at the beginning of sentences or phrases, while repetition is the reiteration of whole words or phrases. Alliteration has to do with sounds while repetition has to do with words and phrases.