You like repeating yourself, I like repeating myself, we all like repeating ourselves right? Wrong. At some point, we have all found repetition to be a bugbear. Whether it’s repeating your drink order again and again at a noisy bar, rereading the same line of a book over and over, or your partner’s mother asking you to put your shoes in the shoe cupboard for the eightieth time, repetition can be annoying. So, what would you say if I told you that repetition (when used in the right way) can be a very powerful tool in written or verbal communication?
Repetition comes in many more forms than just the exasperation of a parent who has continually asked their child to tidy the bedroom for three weeks. The best known, and most commonly used, is called anaphora. Anaphora has been utilised in writing for as long as people have been engaging with the craft. Look at speeches and literature, and you will see this technique used liberally; Shakespeare used anaphora in many of his poems and scripts, Churchill’s famous speech ‘we will fight them on the beaches… .’ is filled with it, even John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath uses this technique. The beauty of anaphora is that it is easy to use, all you have to do is repeat the same word (or group of words) at the beginning of successive clauses.
Following on from last week’s post, in which I introduced you to the structure of Classical Rhetoric, this article will present you with a (by no means exhaustive) list of some schemes of repetition that you can use to enhance your writing. Here we go.