Repetition can be used to enhance your writing as incorporating a particular image etc., works with memory enabling readers to make subtle connections throughout a story. The literary term for this kind of repetition is leit-motif defined as ‘a recurring device loosely linked with a character, setting, or event’. 

A leit-motif is something concrete, it's not abstract like theme – although it may be used to underscore the theme – it’s a detail, something small but which runs through the narrative appearing now and then creating a pattern of meaning.

The image of the green light in the distance in F. Scott’s The Great Gatsby is often quoted as a classic leit-motif, where it symbolizes his dream of being with Daisy. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck similarly uses the image of a small farm as a leit-motif but this time it is a literal dream. Often, when George and Lenny speak of the farm, other characters - with the same yearning - are drawn into the dream.

Shakespeare uses the moon as a leit-motif in Midsummer Night's Dream. Here it lets the audience know that scenes connected with the fairy world are about to appear. The bard also uses language in the form of the phrase fair is foul, and foul is fair throughout Macbeth as a leit-motif.

Sound can be used as a leit-motif. A train in the distance, or a church bell can be used to highlight separations or ceremonies such as weddings or funerals. Repeated physical movements can also be used as leit-motifs – Macbeth again – with the repeated washing of hands which links the action to the crimes committed. 

Films, of course, make great use of music as leit-motifs, after all the phrase was first applied to music; just think of the music accompanying the appearance of the shark in Jaws and you see how effective this device can be. The phrase Play it Again, Sam along with the song, acts as a leit-motif for Rick and Ilsa's love in Casablanca.

As with flashbacks and foreshadowing, this literary device needs to be used with a subtle light hand. You don’t want these connections to leap out at readers, you want the associations to form gradually in the their minds over the course of the story. 

Writing Update:
I'm enjoying editing last year's nano - working slowly but steadily. As long as I'm writing, the world makes sense to me. 

Today’s Haiku: (from Gold Dragon Haiku)

soya latte small to go –
shop windows beckon

(Shameless promotion coming up...)

My poetry book Gold Dragon Haiku is available as a free Kindle ebook and you can download it from 7th – 11th June. I would love it if you could take advantage of this promotion, read, and if you enjoy it, post a review (and have a bit of patience while I promote it over the weekend).

Here is the link (I managed to sort the bitly thingy) where you can download my book for free from 7th – 11th June.

Join me on Twitter at:

For all story lovers out there, good reading, and for those of you who write, good writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Title & Cover Reveal (plus a sneak peek!)

 I Know It Was You Wow! I’m thrilled to reveal the title and cover of my new book. The publication date, October 10th, is fast approaching, ...