Welcome back! Lesson two of Unboring Your Writing is the second part of repetition. Today we’re looking at repetition on a smaller scale, within individual pieces of writing.
While your individual articles or posts (or whatever you’re writing) will probably contain words from your word bank, you also want to have other repetition within each piece of content.
When I’m talking about repetition within individual pieces of content, I’m talking about two things: repeated words, phrases, or ideas; and repeated structure.
The first is similar to what we’ve already covered: You should be scattering the main idea of your piece throughout, to keep your readers on track, remind them what they’re reading about, and what your argument is (every piece of writing has an argument, no matter what it is!).
For example, if you’re writing a blog post that teaches your readers how to use Facebook ads to increase their passive income stream, you would be repeating those words throughout the article, particularly ‘increase your passive income stream’. They may not be in the same order, and you might use different variations or even synonyms occasionally, but you’d be repeating those words and ideas.
This is a technique you probably use instinctively, because it’s part of creating a cohesive piece of writing. However, if you can become aware of where you’re using it and where you could use it more, you’ll be able to create even more polished, cohesive, and inviting content.
Repeating structure is a bit easier. Luckily, it’s another technique that Jen Carrington uses beautifully, so we get to read a bit more from her. Here’s one example, although as I’ve read through her blog posts while writing this course, I’ve noticed that she uses this technique in pretty much every blog post.
Can you see the repetition here?
I’ve slowed down, I’ve focused on digging deep and doing only the most essential work, and I’ve committed to reconnecting to my creativity, my wellbeing, and my best ideas.
(PS: Have you noticed that I have a massive writer crush on Jen Carrington? Here’s the link to that article mentioned above.)
That was actually a bit of a tricky example, because it contains two instances of structural repetition.
See how she’s used a list, and every item has started with ‘I’ve [past-tense verb]’? That’s structural repetition. She’s used the same structure multiple times, and it makes our little human brains sing. We like parallelism; we like patterns.
Bonus points if you also picked up that she used repetition in the final part of her sentence, with ‘my’ and the list items.
Something useful to remember when you’re thinking about repetition is the rule of three—you might have already noticed that in the example above, both instances of repetition contain three items in their lists. It’s human nature—we like things in threes.
It does make sense, if you think about it—two is not really enough to make a pattern or a list, and four is just too many. Three works perfectly. The first instance introduces the idea, the second instance reinforces that idea, and the third instance concludes the idea.
This rule occurs in many areas but is especially useful in writing. Basically, whenever you’re listing something—especially if you’re aiming for dramatic effect—do it in threes. It works!
Exercise: Write a paragraph describing your day so far. Include at least one instance of repetition and rule of three.
Exercise: Write a brief description of one of your services or products. Include at least one instance of repetition and rule of three.
Liked this lesson? I go through repetition and so, so much more in my writing and grammar workbook, Blog in Bloom. If you're a blogger, infopreneur, or small-biz owner looking for more ways to level up your writing skills, I wrote Blog in Bloom for you. Grab it as a digital or printed workbook. Find out more here.
PS: Want the Unboring Your Writing workbook? It's a printable and fillable PDF workbook with the same exercises as these lessons, plus answers. You can find it here.