Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog PLUS Is There an Echo in This Word Document?

Word echoes.

Y’all have heard of these buggers, haven’t you? It’s those word repeats in your manuscript. Yeah, they pop up every now and again, driving you to gouge your eyes out study the hell out of your thesaurus.

Why does this happen? Why does my brain get stuck on a particular set of words? Why can’t I break out of it?

Oh, and ya know what? It’s not just words that get echoed.


It’s sentence structure, phrases, even how you describe things.

So how do we pad the walls of our manuscript to keep the “sound” from reverberating?

  • Careful revisions. (You have to pay attention to EVERY WORD. This only works if you have an alert brain and fresh eyes–no cheating, or you’ll miss something. Trust me.)
  • Good crit partners. (Worth their weight in gold, and then some!)
  • Practice. (Seriously. You only become a better writer through writing.)
  • Using your thesaurus. (I ❤ my thesaurus.)
  • Varying sentence structure. (And keep those “I’s” to a limit if you’re writing in first person.)

What other techniques do you use to reduce echoes?


It’s Wednesday, which means the sisterhood is at it again! This week, Danyelle answers her question on the traveling blog circuit!

11 comments on “Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog PLUS Is There an Echo in This Word Document?

  1. Ciara Knight says:

    You are so right, Laura. I have a hard time with this. I’ll look through my manuscript multiple times, even have it run through a crit partner or two. Then, bomb, someone else finds more. 🙂

  2. Lynn Rush says:

    This is SPOT ON! Those darn echoes. . . . .You’re right, too, Ciara. Funny how they can creep up even after putting it through crit a couple times too!

    Great post!!

  3. Good post! Reading it aloud to myself, or having someone else read it aloud to me, helps, too. I can hear the echoes better when they’re out loud than when they’re in my head. 🙂

  4. Arlee Bird says:

    For the past year my thesaurus has stayed on my desk in front of me, usually open.

    Tossing It Out

  5. Dude, I hate the echo. I have a MILLION of them. There’s only so many ways to say “fire” or “flames” you know? UGH.

  6. Improving word choices and sentence structure is the focus of my latter revisions. I use the Thesaurus in Word documents continually and have a shortcut to it requiring only click once to invoke its assistance. I find sentence structure the most trying changes to make. If I’m not careful, my revisions turn out worse than the original mundane structure. When I come back into my MS later to read what I’ve done, they sometimes make me laugh hysterically. Then I cry. Ha! Blessings to you…

    Oh, my pet echo is “beautiful”. There is no word quite as beautiful as beautiful. Beautiful, beautifully, full of beauty…

  7. Lydia K says:

    I am totally guilty of the above. Ugh. Thanks for this post. I need to reread it when I’m editing!

  8. Natasha Hanova says:

    My critique partners are great at catching this. We read out loud so I often catch echoes along with them.

  9. I use the FIND function in word when I get suspicious that I’m overusing a word or phrase. 😀

  10. Amie Borst says:

    echos? i don’t have echos. i’ve never even heard of an echo. what the heck is an echo?

    just kidding.

    i trust my microsoft tools to help me search – and my crit partners are amazing, too!

  11. Jamie Grey says:

    Ugh – I catch myself using the same description over an over, or a phrase that fits the MC. It’s SO annoying. Thank god for my crit partner! I also do the wordle thing and try to cut down on the over used words, though I’m sure I still miss a ton!

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