Writing Tip: Repetitive Phrase Selection


I not too long ago proofread a soon-to-be-published memoir that’s translated from the French, and sadly, the translator’s phrase alternative is so poor that it impressed this “what to not do” article. Phrase alternative could be a constructive or destructive high quality in writing for a lot of causes. On this case, the author’s sin is the repetitious use of phrases and phrases. Over. And over. And over. Most writers who do that do not understand they’re doing it, and it is probably the greatest causes to learn your work out loud–and one of many best writing pitfalls to repair by cautious modifying.

For instance, right this moment I got here throughout the next sentence:

“In actuality, this was very unrealistic.”

I do know what you are considering: “actuality” and “unrealistic” aren’t the identical phrase. However repetitive phrase alternative is not all the time about the very same phrase or phrase being overused; totally different types of a phrase rely, too. First, when in the identical sentence or paragraph, they could be a purple flag of redundancy. Would the which means of the above sentence be any totally different if we lower “in actuality”? Nope. You may’t declare an thought is unrealistic if you have not thought of it by way of actuality.

Additionally, potential for additional depth and nuance could be misplaced when you reuse favourite phrases and phrases on the expense of variation. If we substitute “in actuality” with a extra particular phrase or phrase, the sentence turns into far more efficient and significant. For instance:

“Given what had simply occurred within the Center East, this was very unrealistic.”


“Exterior of my daydreams, this was very unrealistic.”

Generally various phrase alternative is much more fundamental: If you happen to reread a paragraph in your fiction and discover that you have used the phrase “couple” thrice, drag out your thesaurus. Attempt “duo” or “pair” or “lovers.” Remember that whereas phrases could also be listed as synonyms, every has its personal connotations, and the strongest writers take care to decide on the phrase that greatest conveys their meant which means and suits the tone or temper of their writing. That goes for each phrase in each sentence, after all.

Briefly, phrase alternative is a simple realm wherein to get lazy or sloppy, but it surely’s some of the necessary facets of fine writing, if not the most necessary. Select properly and with selection, my author buddies.


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