MBM: Using Repetition To Improve Your Book, by A.L. Sowards

Welcome to the sixth day of March Book Madness. (If you’ve missed any days, make sure to catch up. Lots of good book info so far. The schedule is at the bottom of this post.)

Today, my friend A.L. (Amanda) Sowards is here talking about repetition and circularity in our books. It’s a cool concept, something I hadn’t really considered before, so I’m excited to have her.

Amanda was kind enough to do a post for last year’s March Book Madness about creating flawed but likable characters. That post continues to be one of my top posts on my blog. I’m thrilled she’s back giving us more writing tips. :) (See link for her last post at the bottom of this one.)

Why Repetition Can Make Your Book Better by A.L. Sowards

A. L. Sowards: 

If you were to make a list of things a book requires (plot, setting, characters, etc), circularity and repetition wouldn’t be on the list. But sometimes these techniques are exactly what you need to take your project and make it that much better.

So what are they, and how can they help your book?


We’ll start with circularity. My favorite example of this comes from the movie How to Train Your Dragon. (It was a book before it was a movie, but according to the sample on Amazon, the book doesn’t start out exactly the same.)

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MBM: Creating Flawed (But Likable) Characters, by A.L. Sowards

Creating Flawed but Likable Characters

Welcome to the tenth day of MARCH BOOK MADNESS!

Today, A.L. Sowards is here discussing characters. She’s the author of Espionage, a Whitney Award finalist this year, set in France during World War II. The sequel, Sworn Enemy, is due out this April.

Cover_FRONT_Espionage updated, small version

Cover_FRONT_Sworn Enemy_lr






Creating Flawed (But Likable) Characters, by A. L. Sowards

The words stung a little because I knew they were true. One of my friends just emailed me her thoughts on an early draft of my second novel.

About the protagonist, she said, “I like him . . . but that’s all. I feel like I should have a crush on him, or want to be like him, or he should remind me of someone I admire, but I don’t feel any of that.” In another note, scribbled in red ink 2/3 of the way through the manuscript, she pinpointed the problem:

My protagonist was too perfect.

He didn’t start out perfect, but I’d used the same main character from my first novel, and he’d already overcome his big challenges during that novel, leaving him . . . too perfect. (Don’t worry—I fixed that. He has some internal struggles now, and I show how obnoxious he is as a hospital patient.)

Why are perfect characters bad?

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