Some days it seems like parenting consists of saying the same thing over and over and over and…

Some days I know for a fact that is what parenting is. And still, they don’t listen. Except when I start in on the ‘so help me…!’ and then they want to know what? I try not to fill in the what, it’s better to let them use their imaginations.

I’m joking, mostly. It just occurred to me this morning that aspects of writing are like aspects of parenting. I need to repeat things – but not too often, or the reader will tune them out – and drop hints about what is coming. As my beta readers come back to me with insights on the latest book, and I make notes about what I need to fix, I’m reminded that what may seem blindingly obvious to me, might be a headscratcher to my readers. Just like when I tell my kids to do something, I know what I mean, but they might not. Or they might just be oblivious.

But that’s my job, as a writer, to make it crystal clear to my readers what I’m saying. As a parent, too. Even when they are in their teens and I’m explaining like they are five and it’s driving me crazy. However, I have to keep in mind that readers, unlike children, are not blank slates. They approach my books and articles with their own background of assumptions, views, beliefs, and those all color what they read. I can play on some of those assumptions – tropes, used properly, are a useful shorthand – and I need to be aware of their existence as it must necessarily influence my writing. If I use, say, science fiction tropes while I’m writing a sweet Western romance, then some of my readers will be left confused and annoyed. Like me, trying to explain to my son that yes, you really do have to tie off the trash bags when you take them out. Because they spill, that’s why. Yes, I know that you took it out and put it in the bin. But that’s not what I meant!

Redundancy is the result of too much repetition.

And on that note, I’m off to the fair…