Reader’s Digest used to have short anecdotes, quotes or stories of wisdom at the end of their articles in their magazines. They probably still do, but I haven’t picked up a Reader’s Digest magazine since high school (so it’s been…what, five or six years?).
I remember once reading a short paragraph-long story about Jay Leno and the jokes in his monologues. Leno said that, when writing and presenting jokes, he’d avoid word repetition.
For example, instead of using the word “car” three times in a joke — or three times over the course of two jokes — he’d mix things up, calling it an “automobile” one of those three times.
This kept the joke and the story from going stale, as repetition sometimes does.
For some reason, this stuck with me. I find myself challenged when it comes to avoiding repetition in my writing. I cringe if I have to use the word “fire” or “firefighters” more than twice in any given story.
But I think the word repetition rule is one that helped me become a better journalist.