Posted by: nancycurteman | September 29, 2011

Don’t Pound Your Mystery Novel Reader Over the Head With Repetition


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Don’t you hate it when you’re talking with someone and they keep repeating the same point over and over again in different ways? It’s as though they think you just will not understand what they have to say unless they keep stuffing it into your brain. The same thing is true for the Mystery Novel Reader. Don’t pound your reader over the head with boring repetition. Have a little respect for his intelligence. Sometimes we as writers don’t realize we’re repeating information. Here are a few ways to avoid offending your reader.

Don’t over show the same mood.
Overdone: He clenched his teeth, his lips tightened into a thin line and he spoke in a taut voice.
Enough: He spoke through clenched teeth.

Do show emotion in action that moves the story forward.
Overdone: The sound scared her. Her face turned ashen, sweat beads rolled down her face, her heart began to race. She had never known such fright.
Enough: She jumped at the sound. Heart thundering in her chest, she raced for the nearest exit.

Do use dialog to replace description.
Overdone: He looked at her with a pained expression. His voice dropped to just above a whisper and he emitted a heavy sigh.
Enough: In an almost inaudible voice he said, “You did this? Why?”

Have faith. Mystery readers will get it. You don’t have to pound them over the head with repetition.

More Writing tips:

6 Ways to Avoid “Information Dumps” in a Mystery Novel


Questions to ask before adding details to your Mystery Novel 


  1. Good observations, good rules!


    • I guess listening to people say the same thing over and over is super irritating to me. I figure others might feel the same.


  2. Great examples.


    • Thanks, Nancy.


  3. Yes! Spot on, I catch this repetition on my writing all the time, and I am so glad I am at least aware of it now.


    • We all tend to repeat sometimes. We think we’re clarifying but we’re just discrediting our readers.


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