Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Reader Rejections: More Repetition


Picture of crossed eyes - about how I felt reading this book!I was watching late night TV last night – Diagnosis Murder and Perry Mason – and I got to watch the same commercial over and over. Every time Valerie Bertinelli said, “Don’t turn that channel,” my girls would beg me to fast forward or switch to something else – even the Weather Channel.

Truth is, the day I posted last week’s article about Repetitive Writing, I put down a book that contained two new types of repetition. These warranted more discussion.

Pet Phrases

I was listening to a past class from an ACFW Conference. Tamela Hancock Murray explained that one book she worked on had all of the characters saying the same thing throughout the book. I think it was something like, “That’s not good.” Hero, heroine, even a kid or two. Definitely a pet phrase of the author that she probably didn’t even realize she was using so much.

That same type of situation caused my discarding of the book last week. This story, and no I won’t tell you the title, had probably 300 sighs. That might even have been a good title for it. The Three-Hundred Sighs. I know it had close to that many because I started circling them about halfway through and made at least 150 circles.

It’s one thing to repeat an action, but sighing is so melodramatic. Hand to forward – alas. Don’t get me wrong. A well-placed sigh can speak volumes: contentment, discontentment, frustration, impatience. But in this story, sighing was used for all of those and more. Sometimes more than one in a paragraph. Once even three times on one page.

I had to laugh at one point. The heroine “caught the sigh that begged to release.”  I couldn’t help but think, “It’s about time!” In fact, I think I said that out loud. LOL! My girls thought I was losing it.

Now having a character do one thing a few times is a quirk. Having them do it often is a bore. Having all the characters do it is ridiculous. And that was this story. The heroine, hero, secondary characters, and heroine’s mother all sighed. Even the mother’s cat. Yes, you read that right! I think the author intended the mother sighing, but the females cat’s name was the last name mentioned. While I would use the pronoun it for a cat, this author used she constantly. So when “she sighed” in the next sentence, I did a double-take. Yep. The cat sighed.

And not only did the cat sigh, but she did it “breathlessly.” Hahahahahaha! How exactly does that work? My girls and I tried it several times, making some pretty scary sounds. LOL!

SlipReoccurring Actions

Technically the sighing is an action. But that wasn’t nearly as bad as one of the other instances I had to read through. Over and over the heroine fell into the hero’s arms. Twice before chapter three. Then two more times before she finally fainted toward the end of the book – by then I was scanning for this article.

I started wondering if maybe she was ill or something? But nope, just clumsy as all get out. Convenient for a romance. And the hero, who tried to avoid her through the first part of the book, just happened to be right behind her for each of her falls. Wow. I guess us stupid readers are supposed to chalk that up to fate, huh? Or maybe we’re all so rosy-eyed that we don’t notice cliche’ story-telling.

I know, I’m being a little harsh with this one. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Five times she stumbled. Five times he caught her. Him and none of multitude of suitors who constantly surrounded her. Go figure.

I don’t enjoy being treated like I’m stupid.

Your Turn: Have you ever read a novel that expected you to believe something ridiculous?

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

2 thoughts on “Reader Rejections: More Repetition

  1. Uh oh. I need to go back to my WIPs and look for “sigh” and “stumble” 🙂


    • Ha! I do the sigh thing. Not 300 of them! LOL! But once in a while, the character just has to sigh. I read a well-placed one last night. The main character had pressure building for two chapters before she finally released it. Now that’s a sigh!