Before You Submit: Dialogue, Narrative and Repetition

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about Dialogue, Narrative and Repetition.

Combining dialogue and narrative is where style, or dare I say art, comes into your writing. 

We all know you don’t want to bore the reader with repetition, but sometimes it’s easy to do without even noticing. I tend to repeat something in narrative that I’ve already said in dialogue.

Here’s what the editor didn’t like in one of my manuscripts:

“You have a choice to make,” Sarah said. “You can walk away right now, or  I’ll call the cops and see what they have to say about the drugs.” Sarah stood her ground.

The editor recommended removing ‘Sarah stood her ground.’ Her thought was that it was obvious Sarah was standing her ground. The dialogue indicated this, and there was no need to hit the reader over the head with it.

Her overall point, if you repeat things, make sure you have a reason to. You might repeat for style or for emphasis, but don’t repeat for filler.

To figure out if you have a similar problem, you can analyze your writing, checking for areas of repetition, or you can ask someone else to read your work and check for you. A reader other than myself can often see things I can’t, so I like asking for help on this one.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading . . .




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