Mandy Collins & Associates

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Why you can say it again, Sam

One of the commonest misconceptions I come across is that in good writing, you can’t – or shouldn’t – repeat words.

Sometimes, the word you’re using simply is the best word for the job: repeat it if it bears repeating. Sometimes, the repetition creates a kind of rhythm. Sometimes it just works.

Engaging in lexical gymnastics to try and find a string of synonyms so you don’t repeat a word/ term/ name/ expression/ designation/ locution/ turn of phrase/ idiom/ appellation/ vocable makes the writing feel forced, unnatural, jarring. Not to mention downright incomprehensible.

Good writing isn’t so much about adhering to hard and fast rules like “five words per sentence” or “one verb per sentence, or “don’t repeat words. It’s about creating a pleasant experience for the reader where the writing disappears and the content shines through.

If that means repeating a word, then go ahead and do it. And if anyone argues with you, send them to me.


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