(in which I am allowed a handful of occurrences)

 

IMG_5235(Serious word nerds, keep reading. The rest of you, go do something productive or take a nap.)

Final combing through of my novel, in hopes it will emerge between portable covers sooner than later.

Meanwhile, there’s a file on my computer called “overused words checklist.” It includes words I use too frequently, & passive or lazy phrases to comb for, such as “very” or “and then.” I consult this oracle when I’m nearing the end of the process. Search/replace/omit (or keep, if they seem to need to be there).

Selected statistics that impress at least me:

  • Just 1 occurrence of the word “tendril.” Because that word is at the top of my list—I used to use is excessively in a previous novel—and it’s apparently my thumbprint.
  • “Very”: Pared down from 30 to 6 “very”s, all of them falling within characters’ dialogue, sounding better left there.
  • “Thought”: pared down from 48 to 19. And zero “thought about”s. !!
  • “Felt”: down from 38 to 8. (And some signify the fabric.)
  • “Little”: Oy vey! From 64 down to 41. (In case you ever read this novel: I’m sorry. I did what I could do.)
  • “Seem” (and its variants): 54, down to 14! Some of which are parts of other words.
  • “Sigh”/ed: Bonus points for only having 8 occurrences to start with! Hell, I could leave them all in there. But why not pare down. Except I had to add 2 more. Still, 10 of 79,000 words is not that bad. (She sighed.)

 

6 responses to “(in which I am allowed a handful of occurrences)

  1. I thought about this a little and I think it’s a very, very (and seemingly) useful practice.

    • Hi, D! I should clarify for the record that the search and replace is not my last step. The last step, generally, is to read the whole manuscript out loud. A lot of work, but always worth the effort, because I always catch weird stuff my eyes (and the computer!) alone don’t see.

  2. Onita Morgan-Edwards

    Thank you!! I don’t see as many blog posts for you anymore. “I guess she’s writing a novel,” I tell myself. 😊

  3. Hooray for the good work! and words.

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