04 September, 2005

Words you reach for (too often...)

Holly MacDowell has put up the following list on her blog.

She asks, 'How many times in your approx 100K-word manuscript do you use the following words?'

1. eyes*
2. softly
3. gaze*
4. stood
5. walk
6. just***
7. carefully*
8. nod
9. raise
10. glance**
11. suddenly
12. dark**
13. sigh

Holly reckons, '...the easiest way to count is to move your 100K words into a fresh doc, then do a replace of each of the words you're counting, and see how many replacements were made for each.'

I haven't done this yet, but I know I'm a sinner with some of these words (asterisks indicate how badly). And I'm putting this here so that I'll remember to go back and check when I finish. I would add to this list:

14. 'look' and all its variants (trying to avoid which, of course, you get a lot of eyes, gazes and glances sneaking in) - I used 'look', 'looking' etc, so many times in the first draft of Little Peach that my editor started underlining them. The pages were speckled with lookings!
15. 'great' and its substitutes, 'vast' and 'huge'
16. 'little', both for size and quantity

17. 'slight' and 'slightly'
18. 'face'


Blogger Among Amid While said...

Justine: I didn't think I had a problem with smile, mine being such a glum book, but now I'm noticing every glimmer of a smile.

I like your 'eyes' story, Perry. I tell you, I'm tying myself in knots now, every time one of these beggars threatens. I'm scared to get to the end and actually run the check.

OK, I gathered my courage and checked for eyes. 81 in 33800 words, 1 every 417 words - yep, every page and a half or so. Geez, and I thought I was being so good.

06 September, 2005 21:16  

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