A dictionary definition of “Anaphora” would state, the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs.
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and on the streets, we shall fight in the hills.” – Winston Churchill
“This blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this England.” – William Shakespeare
From the above examples, you can see how this technique is used for a heightened dramatic effect.
Try to refrain from over using anaphora as well. In “Storm of Divine Light,” I properly used the technique twice in 376 pages.
Excerpt: Patrons never suspected the humble servant Dagorat once had another name. A name he had tried to bury; an infamous name which struck terror into the hearts of travelers and merchants alike. Blackmond Moonshadow, the most notorious rogue who ever wreaked havoc upon the distant Kingdom of Easterly.
The word “paragraph” in the definition poses a bit of a problem. Other language / writing guru’s like Hofmann referred to the paragraph as a natural barrier to anaphora. Creativity Hacker refers to starting paragraphs with the same word whether consecutively or just too often as “Echoing Headwords.” This concept seems to apply to both paragraphs and consecutive sentences.
Let’s say that your MC is named Lisa. Imagine the paragraphs on one page starting as follows.
She stepped on…
The dog barked…
*Psst…I know that most of the sentence starters above seem like an assault of declarative sentences, but that is the subject for another blog post.
As you can see, beginning paragraphs with repeated words just doesn’t work very well. Unlike adverbs, where the usage rate is one for every five to seven pages, I couldn’t find the acceptable rate of repetition concerning echoing headwords.
It would be quite a daunting task to complete a novel with every paragraph starting with a different word. I went back into some drafts to find a rate of repetition in my own #writing. I found that you can repeat the start of a paragraph every other page, or at least eight to ten paragraphs apart, as long as they are not on the same page.
As for sentences, try not to use the same “headword” consecutively or bunched too close together.
Have you found evidence of this faux pas in some of your drafts?