Literary Variance in Business Writing

Literary Variance in Business Writing

Deliberate repetition in business writing can be impactful, but using the same word over and over again can make writing dull. This can often be avoided by applying literary variance.

Applying literary variance means using different words for the same thing to keep your writing interesting. Here is an example with a lack of literary variance:

Lee struggles to cast beyond 50m, so Lee does not catch many bass.

In this example, it is fairly obvious that the second "Lee" should be changed to "he". Making that change is applying literary variance.

Achieve Literary Variance with a Thesaurus

Usually, the easiest way to achieve literary variance is with a thesaurus. Look at this example:

Thank you for your cooperation. The task would have failed without your cooperation.
(A lack of literary variance)

Using "cooperation" twice is a lack of literary variance. If you're using MS Office, right click on one of them and select Synonyms. Look at the options and pick one. I'd probably go for "assistance".

Thank you for your assistance. The task would have failed without your cooperation.
(Literary variance achieved)

Add Literary Variance at the End

Remember, you don't have to achieve literary variance as you're typing. Just use the same word and let your thesaurus earn its living. (Make sure you know what the word you pick means, though. Sometimes, the thesaurus's synonym, i.e., the word that's supposed to mean the same as the one you're checking, is not a synonym at all.)

Here's another example with a possible lack of literary variance:

Are you happy to be alive? If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of payments.

The word "alive" appears twice. Is that useful repetition that achieves some emphasis, or is it a lack of literary variance? Would it be better if one of them were changed to "breathing"? Well, that's for you to decide. Personally, I like the "alive" repeated, but I'm bit of a sucker for emphasis by epiphora.

Read more about using deliberate repetition for emphasis.
The information on this page is taken from
"How To Get Your Own Way"
by Craig Shrives and Paul Easter.


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