I watched a movie the other night, and the main character repeated a phrase enough times throughout the film that it got to be annoying. What gives?
Okay, I think what the writer was attempting was a technique called Conscious Repetition. Used correctly, and sparingly, this can be a powerful tool that can elicit a variety of emotions throughout the course of the film.
Think of yourself and your sister, or best friend, sharing a totally stupid joke – let’s say one of you reads to the other from a newspaper. It’s stupid; you both scoff and keep searching the newspaper ads for an apartment to share.
Weirdly though, both of you remember the joke and the context, and six months later when you’re trolling dating sites online, one of you repeats the stupid joke again and this time you kill yourselves laughing. It is still stupid, and so inappropriate to what you’re doing that it heightens the humor.
And then, your sister or best friend is in the hospital dying, from a stray bullet fired during a new years party, and you’ll never know who did it. She chooses that moment to tell you the joke again, and you cry. As her eyes close with a smile on her face, you cry even harder, and hold her close wishing you were back reading those want ads from ten years ago.
This is an example of how Conscious Repetition can affectively build emotional impact in your story arc.
I hope this helps. And I do wish you good luck with your writing.