What’s the Story – The worst hotel room they’ve ever stayed in.


Repetitive Words in Your Writing

Avoiding Repetitive Words For an individual that loves to spend hours every day writing paragraphs upon paragraphs of content, whether it be for a novel, fanfiction, or even a drabble, we often find ourselves trapped by our own love of specific words. Every author will have a sack containing their favorite vocabulary. After all, the words we choose create the style that makes up our unique voice. However, the downside to those go-to words and a frequent writing schedule is that we’ll forget to diversify. Repetitive words (even amazing words) will leave your work stale or even diminish the impact you were trying to make with a certain sentence. Take a look at some of your writing. Do you see any words in there that you seem to use all the time? Repeatedly? Several times in the same scene? We’re not talking about the common words like “the” or “and”. Descriptive words! Said. Awesome. Good. Nice. Mad. Engorged. If you find yourself over using a word, switch it out with something different. You might find that changing that one single world can add a whole different kind of atmosphere or oomph to the scene. Adding additional words can flesh it out even more.


The food tasted good. The food tasted amazing. The food tasted incredible. The food tasted like a soggy wet box with salt dumped on it. The food tasted like a sweet and spicy mix of heaven. Before you break out that thesaurus, consider whether or not the new word is something your readers will understand and if it actually makes sense. Where it’s fun to occasionally toss in unique words that no one has ever heard of before, if you pepper your entire work with them you’ll end up with paragraphs of nonsense.


Read the paragraph below. Rewrite this paragraph using more interesting words and sentences. Do not use any of the descriptive words that are already in the paragraph. You can make this scene as long or as short as you want, just make sure not to repeat yourself.
He walked into the dark room. On the table was a brown leather bound book. He picked it up and began to read. Inside were beautiful pictures. More colorful images filled his vision with each turn of the page. His mind was consumed by the enchanting words. He dropped the book to the floor and fled from the room. The sound of chilling laughter followed him.

Like this article? You may also enjoy: Fleshing Out a Scene


What’s the Story – Overhearing a phone call that sounds suspicious.


What’s the Story? – The ice bucket turns out to have more than just ice in it.


What’s the Story? – Waking up to a bedroom covered in frost.


What’s the Story – A vandalized snowman.


What’s the Story? – A family vacation that goes awry when eight feet of snow buries something important.


What’s the Story – Sleet pouring down the roof of a train stop that is no longer in service.


Fleshing Out a Scene

Coming up with scenes to put in your story is easy. You may even have a breeze of a time writing the first draft and getting it down on paper. But what’s next? How do you turn your scene from a skeleton to something fully fleshed out without adding too much purple prose, unnecessary description, or pointless padding?

Lets look at a few things you can use to give a scene more life.


Painting a picture of your character can be as simple as dropping a few descriptors here and there with your sentences. The color of their hair or eyes, the shape of their body, tattoos, scars, facial expressions, and so on.


Scenes are not just a white void of nothing. Where are your characters? Are they in a bedroom? A coffee shop? When they look around, what are things they take notice of? You can describe landscape, furniture, walls, weather, and more.


Characters are not going to be standing still doing absolutely nothing, even if the scene isn’t chock full of action.They might be smoking a cigarette, fidgeting with their fingers, straightening up the living room, or looking at their cellphone as they talk. Have your characters interact with the scenery around them.


Often underused, scents can add tons to your scene. Outside there might be the scent of fresh cut grass, smoke from a fire, bread from a local bakery. Indoors they might smell cleaning products, musty old couches, or a teenager’s rank bedroom. There are even people smells like perfume, breath, and shampoos.

Thoughts & Feelings

Depending on the point of view you’re writing from, thoughts and feelings could come in to play. What is the character thinking about their surroundings? The people they’re with? Their current issues? What kind of emotion is driving them at that moment? Love? Hate? Sadness?


There is bound to be dialogue in most of your scenes. Your character could be speaking out loud to themselves, praying to a god, singing to a pet, or talking on the phone. They could even be texting or passing notes back and forth in class.

Remember: It’s not about the length of the scene, but the content.

When you’re looking to round out your scene, consider this: Does this scene add something to the story? Does it display a tidbit about the characters, hint at a connection in the plot, or help move the story forward? You can write several paragraphs, but if it’s all talking about a butterfly sitting on a fence and has nothing to do with your character or give something to the plot then it’s useless fluff. On the flip-side, a single line or paragraph might eliminate padding – but it may also lack enough content to create the atmosphere needed for readers to visualize the scene. You want to find just the right balance.
When it comes to fleshing out a scene, you don’t need to put all of the above things in to a post to make a good one. A balanced combination can give you that extra added oomph to make your scene interesting.

Brainstorming: The Big Six Questions

Let’s assume that you already have an idea for a story. A really basic idea. You just have no idea how to expand on that idea. What you need then is a little bit of plot brainstorming. I like to call this plot bunny breeding! You’re taking your core concept and then breeding tons and tons of ideas that can work with the story.

In this brainstorming exercise, think up six options for each question that relates to your plot. Weave your favorites together to create your outline.

WHO …is in this plot!

In this case the WHO will be the stars of the story. They might be a single main character, many specific characters, or background characters. Your cast of characters can bring up many different plot ideas. In a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to have different sort of story ideas for a group of high school students compared to trained army soldiers.

WHAT …will happen in this plot!

All plots need conflicts and road blocks. Stuff that is going on in the world. Your WHAT should list off a bunch of things you want to throw at your main characters. Are they being attacked by aliens? Is the country at war? Will there be love triangles? Will there be sex scenes?

WHEN …is this all happening?

The WHEN could mean anything from history of the world, time of life for the character, or timeline of events. It can also include when you would like certain plot events to happen to your characters. When you have a lot of things you want to do in a plot, you can write down the sequence of events, and even create more plot ideas on how those events connect together.

WHERE …is this going to take place?

Locations can have a lot of impact on the story. Jotting down lots of places for WHERE you want scenes to take place will help with ideas. Different kinds of plot twists and storylines can come out of changing up locations. Like taking place at school versus at work or at home. In a country that is at war or walking in to a tavern in the middle of the night.

WHY …is all this happening?

You won’t have a story without having reasons. The WHYs are reasons that things are happening. Two countries at war; what happened to cause this? Why are characters involved and trying to fix or fight? Those damned zombies are here, but how? Why did the aliens choose Earth to invade?

HOW …does it all tie together?

When you’re putting together a bunch of elements they need to be related and make sense for your plot. If your plot is about fighting dragons in a fantasy land, but you want to feature a scientist as a main character, you need to figure out HOW that can be accomplished. In a modern setting about Japanese high school students, you couldn’t throw in this Russian mob kid without knowing how they got there.
A lot of people get hung up because they keep having ideas, but none of them seem to work for their plot. Don’t give up or be discouraged if the perfect idea doesn’t come to you right away. Sometimes you need to ramble out a bunch of random nonsense before you hit inspiration. With brainstorming, you are getting your brain in gear to help you find that perfect idea. Where one thing doesn’t work out, you may come up with something even better!