WoW: Repetition for a Reason

No, no, no!

How many times have a said that to myself when editing my work? I’ll see needless repetition, shake my head while muttering those words, and rework things to get rid of the redundancy.

However, repetition can serve us as writers.

I have a plaque on my office wall bearing a famous quotation by Winston Churchill . . .



Masterful, memorable, and effective.




Anaphora (a-naf-er-a) is the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of phrases, clauses, or sentences.

The Beatitudes in the Bible found in Matthew 5:3-10 is a well-known example of this technique with verse after verse beginning with “Blessed are . . .”

I pull this tool from my writer’s tool belt on occasion. Following is an example. My heroine is listening to a concert.

“Elenora savored every movement, every measure, every note as the music transported her to another plane.”

Had I omitted the repetition, the sentence would have lost some of it’s beauty.

“Elenora savored every movement, measure, and note as the music transported her to another plane.”


Yes, yes, yes! Repetition in the hands of a writer who uses it sparingly, intentionally, and wisely can be a wonderful thing.

• • • • •

I wanna know . . .

What are memorable examples of anaphora that come to mind?

Have you used this technique to add pizazz to your writing?

Do you have examples you’d be willing to share?

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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2 Responses to WoW: Repetition for a Reason

  1. Thumping, thumping, thumping sounds emanated from inside the dingy interior wall, growing louder, louder, increasing in intensity, culminating in a crash of splintering plaster, multiplied cracking and slashing like lightening, ripping forever the disintegrating wall to shreds!

    I don’t write horror stories, but maybe I should. Ha! I know there is onomatopoeia. Is the repetition in this anaphora?

    I appreciate learning from your very helpful post. Blessings…

  2. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a time of …”

    and it went on in that way, repeating and using a very deliberate cadence.

    Let me know if you recognize where it came from or I’ll send it to you.

    Yes, by the way. “He said he loved me. He said he loved me twice. The next morning his words echoed in my head and I couldn’t believe it. He said he loved me and I said I loved him back. Isn’t that grand?”

    Given the right passage and being very careful to only use this once in one novel … it is a very effective tool for excitment, or fear or other emotions we want to emphasize.

    Great post as always, Keli.

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