Sunday, April 21, 2013

What do you remember?

Repetition is a necessary evil in writing. To mention something once is to ensure that it will be forgotten. Twice gives an echo of the first, but is not usually sufficient for recall. However, to repeat it several times is to run the risk of being redundant.

There is a balance to all things, and the elements of a story must constantly be balanced. Add too much to one side, and the thing will topple over. The progression of a tale is akin to walking a tightrope: don’t lose your balance.

Names must be repeated to be remembered. However, the character’s name need not be plastered on every line they speak. As you build a character in the telling of your story, certain characteristics can be used to identify which person is speaking: hair color, gender, age, etc. If you have two people with the same physical attribute, you must work even harder to make it clear which one you are referring to.

Also, certain details in a story must be repeated to be remembered. A character’s vocation, relations, and deviations are just a few of the things that will be lost amidst your prose without reminders of their importance. To know someone, they must be familiar to you. We come to know individuals over time, through repeated contact.

Subtlety is key, so the repetition needs to be embedded seamlessly into the narrative. Readers do not need to have details shouted at them for such things to be remembered. A friendly reminder every now and then will go a long way toward establishing familiarity without redundancy.

No comments:

Post a Comment