Today is Picture Book Wednesday and we’ll be talking about repetition, using the delightful Peepsqueak Wants a Friend! by Leslie Ann Clark.
Repetition is a popular device in picture books. It enables the young listener to have the fun of anticipating something as well as providing an inherent rhythm to the text.
When I choose to repeat words, phrases or sentences in my stories, I’m usually asking myself why – why this word or phrase and not another one?
Here are some guidelines I use in answering that question.
Does my character perform a particularly fun or endearing action? If so, this may be an ideal choice for repetition. In Peepsqueak Wants a Friend!, Peepsqueak at first “hopped and skipped and ran” when he was leaving the barnyard. Then, as he searched for a friend, he “hopped, skipped, jumped, and skittered down the path.” This series of actions occurs six times, providing bouncy, active, fun words to read aloud and carry us through the story. The last one takes him off the path and into a cave…providing a shift and some light, shivery anticipation.
Does sound play a role in my story? If you’ve got some fun sound effects that would enhance the story by repeating them, go for it.
Is there a reversal or other type of switch with a word/phrase/sentence toward the end of the story? If so, this can suggest repetition so readers assume one thing–“down the path”–and then are surprised when it’s something else–“into a cold, dark cave.”
One caveat – don’t just repeat something for the sake of repeating it. That can laden your story with unnecessary text. Make sure the repetition feels right for your story.
There are many other ways that repetition may enhance a story. As you read as a writer, observe how repetition is used and to what effect. Share your observations here!