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.
Posted in General Writing Tips, Senseless Ranting
Tagged ashes in the sky, editing, finding overused words, fire in the woods, how to use wordle, jennifer eaton, jennifer M. Eaton, overused words, word cloud, Wordle
I usually edit out overused words last, but since a few beta readers pointed some out… I started fixing, and then the overused words snowballed.
I always have overused words. I think all authors do… but the quantity of words, sometimes appearing five times on the same page, astounded me.
Was it the speed I was writing? The lack of read-throughs before going to beta? (I usually read my manuscript five to ten times before going to beta)
I’m not sure, but I’m definitely not happy. What a terrible, tedious week.
Repeated words might not seem like a big deal, but they ruin the flow of a novel. They stand out, and can pull the reader from your story and remind them they are “only reading”.
Shame on me
That is NOT what I ever want to do to my readers. It is my job to help them escape for a little while. If they are reminded it is “just a book” then shame on me.
That’s why I took an entire week to tackle this before submitting to my editor. The only problem is that another beta pointed out a portion that would be more intense if I made one small point in the story a touch harder on my characters… and I agree.
So that leaves me with two weeks left to do another developmental edit/rewrite on the beginning of the story, and finish the re-write of the ending that I inadvertently started while getting rid of the repeated words in the last two paragraphs. PLUS do a complete final read-through start to finish.
Two weeks until the deadline?
No, this is not where I would like to be so close to the novel being due… Especially since ASHES IN THE SKY went up on Goodreads this weekend, and I was supposed to start EMBERS IN THE SEA last Wednesday.
Tons, tons, tons of pressure… But I WILL get this manuscript in on time.
And I will try my best NOT to make sleep optional.
What words have you seen overused in novels?