(Author’s note: American author and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison died Aug. 5 at the age of 88. I studied her writing and wrote about it in 2016 book “The Art of X-ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing.” This tribute is adapted from a chapter in that book.)
Some writers are great storytellers; others are great lyricists. Nobel laureate Toni Morrison is both, of course, but when reading “The Bluest Eye,” I find myself wanting to stop the narrative so that I could rest and savor the beauty and power of her prose. It’s like that rare occasion when you stop the car trip for a minute so you can watch the sun set behind the mountains.
There are countless passages that deserve our close attention, but there is one Morrison move that stands out. For lack of a better word, I will call it repetition. I don’t mean repetition in its common sense: using a word or phrase over and over again until it gets tedious or meaningless. Morrison’s texts might look like that at first glance, but upon X-ray inspection, it turns out that each signature word changes with repetition, like an echo in a valley.
A simple distinction might be useful: In literary terms, there is a difference between repetition and redundancy. The first tends to be intentional, purposeful, reinforcing. The latter is needlessly repetitive, a waste of words or space. No one told The Beatles that “She loves
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2019/what-ive-learned-about-writing-from-reading-toni-morrison/