Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Forgive Me For Repeating Myself - Lynne Garner

I love to write.
I love to play with words.
I love my job.

Forgive me for repeating myself with the words "I love" in the above lines but I wanted to demonstrate how repeating yourself can be a wonderful writing tool. This form of repeating words is known as Anaphora and is used to give emphasis. Perhaps one of the most famous uses of this is the following quote from Winston Churchill: 

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." 

As you may have guessed this post is about repetition, which is one of the three R's authors often use in their work. The other two are rhyme and rhythm. 

Young children love repetition; it gives them something to listen out for. It allows them to anticipate a section of the story and join in. When I started to teach picture book writing I decided to invest in my own education, so got reading. I was amazed to discover how many ways you can repeat yourself. They include:

Where you take the last word of the previous sentence and start the next sentence with this word, for example: 

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." 

This time the repeated words are transposed (swapped around) for example from ‘Horton Hatches’ written by Dr. Seuss: 

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.”

Repetition of a word with one or more between it. As in this example taken from ‘Where There’s A Bear, There’s Trouble’ 

“Where there’s a bee there must be honey… sticky honey, yummy honey, drippy honey, runny honey…..”

This is similar to anadiplosis however the repeated word or phrase comes from the beginning of the first sentence and is placed at the end of the following sentence. For example this famous catchphrase from the entertainer Bruce Forsyth: 

“Nice to see you, to see you, nice!”

Is similar to anaphora but the repeated words are at the end of the sentence or phrase for example this quote from the bible:

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought like a child.”

This is where the same word is repeated for emphasis for example a quote Winston Churchill: 

“Never, never, never quit.”

Repetition also allows the writer to introduce a sense of rhythm to the words. For example in my book ‘Dog Did It’ which opens with Boris the troll eating something that disagrees with his stomach. His stomach begins to make noises: 

“He felt his belly grumble and growl. It grumbled and it rumbled. It rumbled and it grumbled”

A little later Boris’s friend, Dog has the same problem: 

“Dog felt his belly gurgle and bubble. It bubbled and burbled. It burbled and gurgle.”

As you can see by repeating words and mixing them with similar words the rhythm conveys the noises being made by Boris and Dog’s stomachs.

So don't be afraid to repeat yourself, it may just help you hook your reader.

If you want to discover how not to use one of the other R's, rhyme then check out this fab post by Juliet Clare Bell


Abie Longstaff said...

Great post Lynne - I use some of these tools instinctively but I never knew the official words classifying different types of repetition. I have printed this out and stuck it on the wall above my desk! Thank you x

Lynne Garner said...

So pleased it has been of some help. It amazes me someone has taken the time to actually give a name to such writing tools.

Rosalind Adam said...

I've taught English grammar in the past but I never knew that all these different ways of repeating yourself had names. Kids love it when they can anticipate what's coming with each new sentence and now I want to go away and try using each of the styles in turn. Thanks for a great post.

Pippa Goodhart said...

That's really interesting, and liberating in that it gives variety to the way repetition can be enjoyed and be effective in storytelling. Thank you, Lynne! I think that one reason why repetition is particularly effective in picture book texts is because it is aurally pleasing, and these are the books that most often get read out loud. The same principle goes for Churchill and the Bible, of course.

Paeony Lewis said...

Very interesting, Lynne. And these would be great words for Call My Bluff!

Amanda Lillywhite said...

This is a fascinating post, I hope you don't mind if I print it as I feel that it will take time to digest it and that it would be worthwhile to do so.

Lynne Garner said...

Of course I don't mind - it's a compliment. There are other ways you can repeat yourself just go a searching. The ones I've included are those I find I use in my kids books.

Lynne Garner said...

Trust you ;-)

Amanda Lillywhite said...

Thanks Lynne.

Moira Butterfield said...

Great stuff, Lynne!Who made up these amazing long words in the first place, I wonder? I'd like to make some new ones - Yes, new ones. Shiny sparkly, sparkly shiny new ones!

Alison Boyle said...

Illuminating, Lynne. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

Juliet Clare Bell said...

Thanks, Lynne, a really useful and interesting post. I'm going to print it out too (and try and learn how to pronounce some of those words!). I love love love repetition in stories. It's very empowering for children to be able to predict what's coming and join in. And it's great to see a variety of ways to use repetition. I'm off writing for a week next week and I shall take this with me and actively try using them all and see which ones work with which story. Thanks again, Clare.

LJ Moz said...

Thanks, Lynne, for this excellent post! It's a keeper.

It will be fun to experiment with these different styles of repetitions. I can already see where some will lend nicely to a few of my WIPs.

T. Forehand said...

So glad to have found your blog. Great post.

Ramona said...

Such an interesting post and such great timing for a WIP I started today! Most of these words I had not heard before and I love learning new words, so Thank you very much. :-)

mona said...

Great post! I hate to admit, but I've never heard these words. I'll have to learn to pronounce them too, Clare.

Joolze said...

A brilliant post - thanks Clare for highlighting it - and thanks Lynne for creating it. New words for me to learn, new words for me to remember. Children love repetition and I've just finished a PB text with some in. Now I can put a grand name to what I have done!

Jane Clarke said...

Thanks, Lynne - fascinated to learn that there are words to describe what I automatically do again, and again, and again...

Darshana said...

This is a fantastic post. Didn't know there were official names for all these types of repetition.
Will be bookmarking this post for reference.

Joanna said...

I learnt so much from this posy. Huge thanks. I am reposting it all over!

Lynne Garner said...

Go on give it a go and let us know about it in your next blog!

Lynne Garner said...

Please do keep coming back and reading it. We have (even if I say so myself) a fab team and some great guest bloggers lined up for the rest of the year.

Lynne Garner said...

Pleased you enjoyed and thanks for reposting. Just pleased I only blogged about it and don't have to stand up in front of anyone and talk about is as I'm sure I'd get the pronunciation incorrect.

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shoutbabble said...

How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself?
You need to work on your inner self so you can eventually stop being too hard on yourself. Forgive yourself and meditate to bring changes.