So, long ago in my writing I wrote a chapter where a book housing a specific missing chapter was found in a treasury. As you can tell, it's super ultra convenient to just have it in the treasury all along and skip out about 10,000 words that I decided to edit out after writing it.

I wrote a chapter to the writing yesterday morning but deleted all of it yesterday and replaced it with something else. Why? Because I was making something else really conveniently found in a treasury. I decided that considering I already used the convenient treasury find, I would make the characters go on the mission I planned for book 1 to get the important plot item.


Is it bad writing to say, have an event that is repeated? For my example, having something found in a treasury, and then having something else later found in a treasury?


3 Answers 3


It's a little convenient, but you can get around that a few ways:

1) Hang a lampshade on it. That is, have the characters point out that they found that other MacGuffin at the treasury too, and what else did the king hide in here? Good grief, is that Amelia Earhart's luggage? Turns out the king was a huge collector, and hoarder, of ancient and valuable MacGuffins.

2) Your bad guy hid item number 1 in the the treasury. It took a long time to find and it was hard for the heroes to get in and out safely. Where's the last place your heroes would think to look for another item, your bad guy thinks? Back in the dang treasury! So he does it on purpose.

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    I found 'Amelia Earhurt's Luggage' so funny. +1000. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 18:16

I think you can get away with it, using an approach such as Lauren suggests, with one important caveat. You need to make sure that the stakes are higher than last time. If you have not raised the stakes, it is going to seem like a skipping record, the same passage repeating over and over again. (Does the metaphor of the skipping record still work these days? Old vinyl LPs could get a scratch in them that would make the needle skip back into the previous groove so that the same section of music played again and again.)

Remember that a story arc is about rising tension. If your crew is going around collecting items, the tension needs to rise for each item they collect. There are lots of ways for it to rise, but if it does not, the reader will just feel they are being told the same incident over and over even if they details are different.

You can even work the back to the treasury angle to your advantage here, since the assumption that the item can't also be there can be an additional distraction that keeps the tension rising.


I didn't completely understand your problem description... but I think you're talking about repeating a certain plot element in a new book.

The Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout feature certain elements that get repeated. But there's a different twist each time. The new twist keeps it interesting, but there's something very soothing about the elements recurring from one book to another.

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