About four years ago I posted about a cool website called Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/) that will make a cloud of words from the most used words in your manuscript.
The words that you’ve used the most (AKA the words you may be overusing) will appear the biggest.
I don’t know what made me think of this suddenly, but I decided to drop the novel I am currently editing with my Month9Book editor into the program.
This is what spit out.
I guess I am not alone in struggling with overused words. I think everyone does to some extent. But I found this very enlightening.
The largest word is the word that appears the most frequently in the novel.
“David” was not a surprise. The novel is in first person, and Jess spends most of the novel with David.
The runners up, though, are cause for concern. “Eyes” “Like” “Back” and “Dad” all appear equally high, tying for the number two position.
I used search and replace to see how frequently they appeared.
“Back=406” and “Dad=390”
“Dad”, like “David”, is probably not a concern, but 300-400 instances of Eyes, Like, and Back certainly are a concern. “Pulled” and “Just” are pretty high up there as well. I will definitely be looking at those, too.
While word clouds are, for the most part, just fun, you can also use them to point out stuff like this.
I’d missed this during my own editing before turning in the manuscript. “Back” wasn’t even on my radar screen.
It is now.
Try dropping your current WIP into a word cloud generator. You might be surprised what you find.