What to make of a repeated phrase

Last November Bobbie asked re my story Waning Tapers about repeated phrases. Here’s the first two paragraphs of the piece:

Emmanuelle gazed from the second-floor window as the sleek automobile — its black flowing lines reminded her somehow of a panther — glided through the driveway’s final curve and braked gently near the portico below. She was pleased that he’d chosen to drive himself.

She wanted to remain there, standing back from the glass so she couldn’t be seen, holding the muslin curtain with the slender ringless fingers of her left hand. She wanted to watch him emerge, wanted to see whether he was as graceful as the car he drove, whether she could detect from his movements if his own lines, his shoulders, his arms, somehow mirrored those of the beautiful machine that had brought him to her door.

The repeat of she wanted in the second para comes from two places: one is musical, like the repeat of a three-note phrase at the beginning of succeeding measures or cadences. Whether or not this makes any sense to you might depend on what kind of music you listen to.

But the impetus to write it that way comes from immersion in the character. The repeat of she wanted conveys the character’s fear of what might portend and a feeling of yearning. These set the mood of the piece.

No one commenting on the piece mentioned the repeat probably because it didn’t bother them or perhaps because they saw it as a technique and not a flaw (guessing).

But all this after the fact analysis is in one way beside the point because the “I” that can analyze this stuff doesn’t know how to actually make any of it happen at the moment I’m writing. For that I have to rely on what I call my “writing mind,” which sometimes offers up what seems to be needed when the need appears, or not, as the case may be.

But now that you know that such things are out there, perhaps your own writing mind will take note (actually it already probably has) and at some point in the future you might find something similar happening to you.


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