How many times has this happened to you? You’re reading a book and the author continuously harps on the same point. The hero has abs you can bounce a quarter off of. The heroine is going to suffer in a dreadful way if her vampire master finds out she didn’t obey his command. Or, the heroine’s secret, if revealed, will destroy everything she’d ever worked for.
Yes, we get it. We’re readers. We probably picked up on this ever so important plot point the first time you wrote it. There is absolutely no need to repeat it three, four … okay, eleven times. This has happened to me several times in the past few months. I read a lot … probably an abnormal amount compared to most people I’m acquainted with. So I guess you can say that I’m an experienced reader. Still, I’m finding this repetition not only in new authors, but in authors who are multi-published. With a new author, this might discourage me from purchasing future books. In fact, there is one author who just had a book released which is the second in a series … and we all know how much I love series. Still … sorry, I won’t be buying that book. I found the first round of reminders too annoying.
Perhaps I’m a little sensitive to this bad habit because it used to be one of mine. Before I was published and still polishing my first manuscript, I asked one of my sisters to read a couple of chapters to see what she thought of my writing. Her first comment? “Yes, it was foggy. I know it was foggy. You don’t have to beat me over the head with the fact that it was foggy.”
Looking back over that first manuscript, she was absolutely right. I was so intent on setting the atmosphere that I overdid it. A lot. Don’t recall how many times I mentioned the fogginess of the day, but it was excessive. Needless to say, a huge portion of that first chapter was edited to within an inch of its life and “Promise for Tomorrow” was eventually published.
Do you find excessive repetition annoying, or is that just me being picky? Sure we can miss out on a hint if its done too subtle and a reminder down the road may be necessary, but beyond that I really think your readers are intelligent enough to get the picture.