When I was a kid, we discovered THE MOST ANNOYING THING. Repeating the same thing over and over and over. Then I came across a little ditty that was annoyance GOLD. I said this puppy over and over so many times! It was awesome. (Feel free to teach it to any kids you know.)
I'm going to show it to you in drawings, because drawing make things more fun, right?
Now imagine that repeated over and over. AWESOME, right? It totally was! Well... if you were the one saying it. Not so much if you were the one hearing it.
Repetition can be a great thing in a book. Like when it reinforces the theme or when you repeat a phrase to add emphasis.
But repetition can also be a really bad thing in a book. There's lots of repetition we have to look out for.
Like repeating those pet phrases we each have. Or pet words. Or pet body language or actions (raising eyebrows, shrugging, sighing, etc.).
On a paragraph or page level, having two sentences that say essentially the same thing.
Character types. When multiple characters share the same personality traits, appearance, quirks, likes and dislikes, the characters can feel flat, even if they are well developed.
Repeating conflict. I read a book recently that had conflict on every single page! It was great... except that each conflict was the same conflict. The MC got captured, then he'd find a way to escape. He'd gain a little ground, get a little closer to his goal, and get captured by someone else. He'd find a way to escape... and you get the picture.
When you explain too much. This SO EASY to do on a first draft! You want to make sure you convey everything. Make sure the reader REALLY GETS what is happening, and that's totally fine. But in revisions, remember to trust the reader. You're a reader. You know how we are. We're pretty good at picking up things, even when they are more subtle.
Repeating emotion. I read a book a year or two ago that people generally loved. There was a lot of the book that I loved, too, but there was something that kept it from being fabulous. A single emotion permeated the entire book. Everything was seen through the eyes of that ONE emotion. We never got a reprieve, and by the end, I was exhausted.
So as fun as it is to annoy your siblings when you're a kid, it's a good thing to never annoy your reader through repetition. Do you have a repetition pet peeve that drives you crazy whenever you see it? Do you have any you find yourself doing often?
Now go teach my little ditty to any kids you are frequently around. Come on. It'll be AWESOME.