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Jan's Master Class--REPETITION

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Jan's Master Class--REPETITION

Postby glorybee » Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:38 am

I'm home sick today--totally voiceless, a blessing to some--and I'm bored, so I'm posting this week's topic early. It'll look familiar to some of you; it's the same as last week's topic, which only got a few reads before The Purge.

Repetition is exactly what you’d think—using a word, phrase, or even a sentence more than once for the effect it will have on the reader.

I did a little bit of research for this term, and discovered that there are fancy words for all sorts of repetition—how do you feel about epizeuxis, conduplicatio, and epistrophe?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. I don’t want to mess with those, either. But I will give a few examples of different types of repetition, in both prose and poetry, and I’ll indicate how and why you might want to use some repetition in a Writing Challenge entry.

Gotta give credit to Wikipedia for the following.

1. You might choose to repeat one word, with nothing between them:

~“No, no, no! I refuse to allow another cat into the house!”

~I never, never expected to find myself knocking back a beer in Rick’s Saloon.


2. Or you may repeat a key word several times within one paragraph:

~A breath of air whiffed into the room; someone had walked past the open door. I reached out to take my new grandson into my arms, holding my breath; such perfection in such a tiny package. Bending my face to his, I captured his breath—milky and sweet.

3. Think about repeating the last word or two of one sentence as the beginning of the next:

~Jan stared at the letter. The letter—with the return address that mocked her.

~My wanderings led me far from home—
From home, where comfort dwells…


4. It can be very effective to repeat a word or phrase at the beginning of a series of sentences or clauses:

~I hate pickles. I hate them on the side of my sandwich, where their icky juices contaminate everything they touch. I hate them lurking in my tunafish or my devilled eggs. I hate them taking up valuable space in my refrigerator. I really hate pickles.

5. Similarly, consider repeating a word or phrase at the end of a series of clauses:

~I love the smell of newborn babies, and the clasping fingers of newborn babies, and even the whimpering and snuffling of newborn babies.

6. Obviously, you can also repeat a word or phrase in the middle of a series of clauses:

~The stupid cat eats sting, and she throws up. She sleeps on my bed, and she sheds fur on the pillows. She cries to go outside, and she immediately cries to come back in. But then she leaps into my lap—purring-- and she steals my heart.

7. I’ve read many excellent entries in which an entire sentence is repeated periodically throughout the story, or an entire line throughout a poem, perhaps as a refrain, or at the end of each stanza. This sentence may emphasize something that is happening in the protagonist’s life, or it may gain additional meaning each time it is used.

8. Closely related to repetition is parallelism, or parallel structure. Here, the writer uses very similar words or sentence structures for their effect on the reader. This is very common in the Psalms, so I’ll just give one example, and give you the privilege of seeking out some more:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)


See how the second part of the sentence has the same structure as the first? In your writing, you can use parallelism for anything from one sentence (as in the above example) to whole sections of writing.

Repetition is a tricky literary device. Done well, it can be highly effective for enhancing your story or poem. Repeated words or phrases can be very meaningful, touching, or funny. On the other hand, if overdone, repetition can be tiresome, or may even cause your reader to skip an entire passage—yadda yadda, I’ve read that before.

It’s one of those things that has to be done intentionally, and with a specific purpose in mind. I found a story of mine recently that had the word strictly in two adjacent sentences. It’s a dumb word to repeat—not significant at all, nor particularly meaningful. I did not intend to use that word twice in one paragraph. I usually catch unnecessary repetition by reading my stories aloud—something you might want to try.

Homework: Write an example of a few of the types of repetition listed above. OR find examples in the Bible (repetition is common in the Psalms, as I said, but can also be found in many other OT books, and in some of the NT letters). OR comment on your use of any of the listed types of repetition: how does it enhance your writing?

If you do one of the homework assignments above, you may also link to a challenge piece in which you used repetition. Please tell us about how and why you used it in that piece.

According to Scott, the classes that are lost, are lost forever. I'm working on compiling all of the previous classes from my own files, but the first dozen or so may be gone forever--they were on a computer that crashed. When I go back to work, I'll check for rough drafts on my school computer, but if any of you have saved previous classes, either as hard copies or on your computer, please let me know. I'd like eventually to make the whole series available either as a booklet or a download, for anyone who wants it.

Edited: Looks like between Dianne Janak's hard copies that she's sending to me, and my various computers, I've recovered everything except allegory, flashback, and conflict. Hooray for Dianne! If any of you happened to run off copies of any of the ones I just listed, please let me know. Once I get Dianne's copies, I'll let you know how you can get the back lessons--FREE!


Next week: rhyme
Last edited by glorybee on Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby triumfunt » Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:16 pm

It's hard to miss the irony of our repitition class being repeated, but I know it's not really humorous under the conditions of cyberspace theft.. from whatever little monsters in there hate what we are doing here..
I'm so sorry..

I will await your message to see which classes are missing... I think I had copied about 5 or 6 of them... so give me a holler when you know...

as for repetition? I mentioned last week or B.P. ( before purge) that there are times I read my piece outloud and something in me cringes, when I have UNintentionally started too many sentences the same way, or used the same word, and it just sounded boring.... getting a new word made a world of difference..

So I will agree with you, Jan, that the word "INTENTIONAL" is important here, and giving a good reason for the repetition would be easy for the writer to do... at least for me. I love to see it in poetry especially to emphasize a point. I have heard so often from many good Bible teachers that when the Bible repeats a refrain, or when Jesus says... "verily" twice, it is for us to really listen up.

Thanks Jan, for your hard work. This was no one's fault, and your example of good sportsmanship shines through... I do hope you feel better ... future almost granny!

Dianne
I wish I had laughed more. I wish I had smiled more. I wish I had thought of others more. I wish I had been a better listener. There is NOW and that is all I have for sure..!

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Postby glorybee » Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:39 pm

Great points, Dianne.

I really think that reading one's piece aloud is key, not just for catching unintentional repetition, but also for catching any number of errors. I do it with almost every piece I write. My cat looks at me as if I'm weird. So does my husband.

And I love repetition in poetry--one of the many ways in which poetic language is not like spoken language, nor even much like prose.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:59 pm

Goody, goody... I get to repeat the test and give all new answers.

1. You might choose to repeat one word, with nothing between them:

“Frogs, frogs, frogs…” the teacher babbled from the back of the meeting room. “Why do the students all croak at me like frogs?” There was a frightening glaze in his eyes. “Frogs!” he cried.
Only then did we realize we had hired the wrong teacher for the psychiatry class.


2. Or you may repeat a key word several times within one paragraph:

Big John came by his name naturally. He was big in more ways than one. Of course, his size was big… everyone could see that obvious feature. Not so many, though, saw his big heart. His heart really couldn’t be described by just the word ‘big’. It was boundlessly gigantic.
That’s why it caused such a ruckus in town the day Big John’s big heart broke
.

3. Think about repeating the last word or two of one sentence as the beginning of the next:

“Billy, do you like the pretty firefly? The pretty firefly likes you, too. She would like for you to let her go. Let the pretty firefly go, Billy.”

4. It can be very effective to repeat a word or phrase at the beginning of a series of sentences or clauses:

I’m confused by the phrase ‘The best things in life are free.” Free Rolex watches would be nice, but have you ever seen one? Or a free BMW? Or a free mansion? Not even my wife and kids are free. So what’s with the phrase?

5. Similarly, consider repeating a word or phrase at the end of a series of clauses:

I have been told that roses are the perfect expression of love but I disagree because no marriage ever survived on just roses.

6. Obviously, you can also repeat a word or phrase in the middle of a series of clauses:

Sometimes Frank felt like giving up on his chosen career because he felt so ineffective. Thank God, though, his love for preaching the Gospel never allowed him the luxury of giving in to the feeling any longer than it took to fall to his knees in prayer.

7. I’ve read many excellent entries in which an entire sentence is repeated periodically throughout the story, or an entire line throughout a poem, perhaps as a refrain, or at the end of each stanza. This sentence may emphasize something that is happening in the protagonist’s life, or it may gain additional meaning each time it is used.

To Please Me

To please me God created trees;
A babbling brook,
A gentle breeze.
He then placed deer among the trees...
All because He wants to please!

To please me
God gave treasure, wealth untold,
(Far, far more than just mere gold.)
He gave the Earth,
The Skies,
The Seas.
All because He wants to please!

To please me
God allowed His only Son
To pay the price for what I've done...
My life is His; my only plea
Is to hear God say
"You, too, please me!"
Gerald Shuler


8. Closely related to repetition is parallelism, or parallel structure. Here, the writer uses very similar words or sentence structures for their effect on the reader. This is very common in the Psalms, so I’ll just give one example, and give you the privilege of seeking out some more:

All of the parables of Jesus?
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby GShuler » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:14 am

Can I do a repetition of my "Tick Tock" story? http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=74976
I did this story just to try building tension and suspense. It was my intention that every reader be asking questions like "Will he?" "What happened?" "What's going to happen?" Each time I repeat the phrase "Tick Tock" the story cranks up another notch on the suspense meter.

At least, that was the plan.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:07 am

Gerald, I like these examples even better than last weeks--even "Tick Tock" again! You are fast becoming one of our more literary writers.

Do you think you can bring back "Tick Tock" for all of the remaining classes? :D
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:13 am

Time will tell... Tick Tock, Tick Tock.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Repetition

Postby Colswann1 » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:10 am

Hi Jan - I've just found this lesson!

Jn 1vv1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness , and the darkness has not overcome it.

This link - you made a query in your comment originally. ie tangled limbs etc. It's a picture of little street bodies cuddled together, coverer in cardboard and plastic bags to keep warm at night as they slept together.

http://faithwriters.com/wc-article-leve ... p?id=17257

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Postby Symphonic » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:38 pm

Since the discussion began last week, I’ve become more aware of how I use repetition in my writing–not only in fiction, but also in non-fiction. I tend to be a method/order/structure sort of writer, so parallelism and repetition come naturally to me. Here’s an example from what I wrote when I had the somewhat unenviable task of explaining Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony to grade school students:

Josef Stalin wanted a big, grand, exciting work that would celebrate Russia’s part in the victory [World War II]. He imagined that Shostakovich would compose something like the triumphant finale of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, with a huge orchestra, soloists and chorus.

But Shostakovich was in no mood to celebrate. Hitler had been defeated, yes, but Stalin was still the leader of Russia–and like Hitler, Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people.

So instead of the great celebration that Stalin wanted, Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 9...


Here I repeated the word “celebrate” to emphasize what Stalin expected and contrast it with what Shostakovich composed. I also used repetition to compare/contrast Hitler and Stalin.

I can’t write lush descriptive prose, so in my fictional works, I rely on techniques like repetition and parallel structures to set the scene. (Example: The directions were easy to follow; the house was easy to find.)

Similarly, in dialogue, I prefer verbal interplay to histrionics. Here’s an example from my earlier post:

“And yet, you allowed it.”
“Yes, I allowed it.”


This is a rather intense moment in the context of the story. One character expresses outrage; the other answers with cold defiance. Another writer might have written:

“And you just bleeping LET IT HAPPEN, you blankety-blank-blank bleeping BLEEPARD!?!” he shrieked, digging his fingers into the other man’s throat and hurling him against the wall... etc.

But that’s just not my style. Not that my characters never get angry–they do–but I usually prefer controlled anger to shrieks, screams and violence. Techniques like repetition allow me to express emotion in the structured way that works best for me.

Carol S.

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Re: Repetition

Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:21 pm

Colswann1 wrote:Hi Jan - I've just found this lesson!

Jn 1vv1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness , and the darkness has not overcome it.

This link - you made a query in your comment originally. ie tangled limbs etc. It's a picture of little street bodies cuddled together, coverer in cardboard and plastic bags to keep warm at night as they slept together.

http://faithwriters.com/wc-article-leve ... p?id=17257


Hi, Colin, glad you found this class. It was posted after The Purge, so it should remain intact.

Your example from scripture is an excellent example both of literary repetition (what a beautiful passage!) and of repetition for effect.

And thanks for the link. It's a very effective use of "when I think...", and now I understand the reference to "plastic and card" that puzzled me on the first read. It was a Britishism unfamiliar to me--"card" for "cardboard". My fault entirely.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:25 pm

Carole, your post fascinated me on so many levels!

First, I didn't know any of that historical material about Shostakovich, so I loved learning something new--and your repetition of "celebrate" worked so well there. I should have mentioned, I think, that repetition is a time-honored educational trick, for students of all ages.

And I loved your explanation of how you use repetition to describe the "slow burn" of anger. Awesome. Thanks so much for this contribution to this class!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Verna » Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:26 pm

My favorite repetition is from Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening, " which ends And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

Here's a little imitation of Frost's style

SUNSET MEDITATION

The sunset gold I came to see
Was not the sight that beckoned me.
Instead, the sun, red as could be,
Sank slowly in an old pine tree.

Before the sun was out of sight,
The moon was ready to take flight
And bring reminder with its light:
God's in control; the world's aright.

And since I know my life He’ll keep
Within His care through night-clouds deep,
I'll close my eyes and go to sleep.
I’ll close my eyes and go to sleep.

I'm also a big fan of "The Raven" by Poe and his repetition of "quoth the raven...Nevermore"

And I even tried a little repetition on this week's challenge entry!
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
http://www.magnificomanuscripts.com/

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:38 pm

Verna, thanks for the reminders of Frost and Poe, and for your VERY beautiful homage to Frost's poem (which I had to memorize in 4th grade and still remember today--mostly). Yours is just gorgeous!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Sonny » Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:47 pm

I felt only the first few people who laid hands on me before God's sweet peace engulfed my entire body. It continued to rain gently over me and I never wanted it to stop. "Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, thank you Lord"-------

I frequently use repetetion in my poetry to drive home a point; something I would like readers to remember if they remember nothing else.

A couple of these, "There's hate where there should be love" and "God's message of love" are posted in the regular writting section.

God's message of love http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=83585
Clarence "Sonny" White

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-time- ... 822&sr=1-2

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Reflect ... store=book

http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=29668

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalms 37 v4 KJV

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:54 pm

Sonny, lovely use of the repetition of "He loves you" in your linked poem, and also of "Thank you Lord" in your example. Repetition can indeed create strong emotion in your writing, and you've demonstrated that very well.

Thanks!
Jan Ackerson

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