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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grunt Work

This morning, I ran my word frequency counter macro against "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" and began the tedious job of working through the major repetitions.

First up, the word "had." The result of the counter indicated it appeared 616 times in the manuscript. I opened the file and used "Find" to locate each instance of "had." Sometimes it's possible to remove it with no change in meaning at all, or to rephrase something to avoid using it. An example of rephrasing would be when narrative says "I had no idea..." can be changed to "I did not know..." Then again, I'll also be checking for the word "did" along the way.

The main aim here is not to remove every instance of overused words but to determine if there is a better one to use in some cases. Example: "He had the bluest eyes I ever saw." Change that to "His eyes were the blue of the deepest part of the ocean." Or maybe just "His eyes were the bluest I ever saw." Depends on how important the description is. Words like "had" get used in so many ways, but there are frequently many other words that say it better. Look up the word "had" in a dictionary some time. One reference on the web listed 38 different uses of it!

Some of my other troublesome overused words are "that", "was", "something", and a few others. For anyone  undergoing the self-editing process, have a look at a valuable book by Bobbie Christmas called "Write in Style." It's a great reference I turn to again and again, and it's also a fun read.

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