Writers need to watch out for echoes — a duplication of words, phrases, effects, details, scenes that reverberate in readers’ minds and dilute the work. As an example: originally I’d written the first sentence of this blog as “Writers need to watch out for echoes — a duplication of words, phrases, effects, details that echo in readers’ minds and dilute the work,” but the second “echo” echoed the first and diluted the effect of both, so I changed the second “echo” to “reverberate.” In the same way, if you have two scenes that make the same point without adding anything new, then the scene is not only redundant, but echoes in readers’ minds, and makes them feel as if the story is going nowhere.

Sometimes, however, an echo can be used to good effect in writing, such as when you’re trying to play on a theme, but it’s especially effective in photography. A roof can be an interesting subject for an image, but showing the roof against an analogous background — peaks against peaks — can strengthen the image rather than dilute it.

There is no shortage of peaks around here — roof peaks, mountain peaks, hill peaks — and I was able to find shots of peaks perfectly echoed against peaks to illustrate my point.

peak to peak

peak to peak

peak to peak

peak to peak

peak to peak


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “Echoes”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I think I know what you mean. In the novel The Silent by Jack Dann there are the same battle locales of the American Civil War revisited over and over again with the plot not moving forward an inch. I started reading the book with all intentions of finishing it but it’s just the same misery guts stuff throughout. You know nothing good is going to happen to the main character. What’s more, the same kind of bad is just going to keep on keeping on. Half way through the book I gave up. Bad things do tend to circle and hit, circle and hit in real life. I just didn’t feel like reading a whole novel about it.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Very good points. If each time he revisited a locale, you learned something new — maybe from the perspective of another character that put a different slant on what the first character experienced, it might be okay, but if nothing new is learned, it the characters or the readers don’t grow, then it’s a waste. Groundhog Day (the movie) is a good example of the same scenes being revisited, but each time he changes and learns so that in the end, he becomes what he needed to become.

  2. justcontemplations Says:

    Some very good points! (no pun intended of course)

  3. genius02 Says:

    That is what it should be, tell them. Writers write.

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