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How Many Times Have I Said...?


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#1 RSMellette

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    Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, Dec. 2014 Elephant's Bookshelf Press

Posted 30 June 2017 - 12:02 AM

Here's a good editing game.

 

I'll offer a word that should be used sparingly in a manuscript. Tell us how many times that word shows up. Then you offer a word that should just, really, totally, like, be cut.

 

Let's start:

 

Suddenly 

 

MS Word says I've used this 18 times out of 75,000 words... I think I can do better.

 

How many times did you use Suddenly?  What word should I search for?


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by R.S. Mellette

"WOW. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt reading this book - WOW. I was so pleasantly surprised - oh, let's be honest, it was more like blown away!" -- Holy B. In NC, Amazon Review.


#2 Michael Steven

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 03:25 AM

I have 6 appearances of "suddenly" in Accusations and Innocence (114K words).  Sudden is a word I hunt for and exterminate as often as possible.  I could rework those 6 instances, but sometimes the word works.  That's the hard part.  Getting too edit happy with certain words.
 
Anyway, how about this for another one to reduce:
 
Very
 
I have 39 appearances in Accusations and Innocence.  It is also a word I hunt for and exterminate.  I could probably cull a few more of them although many are figures of speech types of usage.  e.g. "At the very least the Watch Commander would be interested."


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Let there be travellers who venture ... Far from the beaten path
And let one of them be me - Jefferson Starship - Champion (unused lyrics)

#3 RSMellette

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    Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, Dec. 2014 Elephant's Bookshelf Press

Posted 01 July 2017 - 02:04 PM

"Very" is definitely very cuttable. :)

 

I have 167 out of 75K.  My defense right now is that it's a story narrated by a teenage girl, so technically, the whole thing is dialogue... still, I'll have to look into each of those - which brings me to another weak word...

 

Look

 

Holly cow! 314 of those.

 

Work. Work. Work.


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"WOW. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt reading this book - WOW. I was so pleasantly surprised - oh, let's be honest, it was more like blown away!" -- Holy B. In NC, Amazon Review.


#4 LucidDreamer

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 03:18 PM

Only 2 instance of "suddenly" and 8 instances of "very" in A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS. Not too bad!



#5 JeffJustWrites

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 06:22 PM

19 suddenly's

183 very's

93K total words.

 

I suppose I should work on that...


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#6 Michael Steven

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 12:14 AM

I found 135 "look" although five of them were "overlook."  I may have to revisit that one ... again.

 

For another insidious word, how about:

 

Seem

 

I have 22 instances of that.  Not bad, and I've edited those a number of times.


Let there be light on this planet ... And let it shine through me
Let there be travellers who venture ... Far from the beaten path
And let one of them be me - Jefferson Starship - Champion (unused lyrics)

#7 RSMellette

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    Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, Dec. 2014 Elephant's Bookshelf Press

Posted 16 April 2018 - 01:42 PM

"seem" 64 times in 87K... seems like I could tighten that up.


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by R.S. Mellette

"WOW. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt reading this book - WOW. I was so pleasantly surprised - oh, let's be honest, it was more like blown away!" -- Holy B. In NC, Amazon Review.


#8 lnloft

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 04:45 PM

"seem" and its derivatives: 84 times in a 104k manuscript. Might want to check through those.

 

I know one word I've struggled with over-using is "slightly". I remember when I really noticed, where I called myself out on writing a sentence of something like: "He frowned slightly," and I realized that was just unnecessary. Just commit, don't be wishy-washy. Since then, I've always made sure to do a search for "slightly" in all of my manuscripts, usually cutting at least half of them.


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#9 RSMellette

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    Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, Dec. 2014 Elephant's Bookshelf Press

Posted 17 April 2018 - 08:24 PM

I have six slight-ly-est. I can live with that.

 

I agree with the commit note. Someone in my group keeps using "begins" or "starts" both take away from the action. Just use the action verb, we'll assume is started or began.


From Elephant's Bookshelf Press

 

51xExIpByyL._SS140_SH35_.jpg51n1zBAR2vL._SS140_SH35_.jpg

by R.S. Mellette

"WOW. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt reading this book - WOW. I was so pleasantly surprised - oh, let's be honest, it was more like blown away!" -- Holy B. In NC, Amazon Review.


#10 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 09:58 AM

 

I agree with the commit note. Someone in my group keeps using "begins" or "starts" both take away from the action. Just use the action verb, we'll assume is started or began.

 

I'm really bad for doing this.  Even when I'm aware of it, I still think the sentence is better with it, until I do a find a replace and see just how many of them there are and how little they contribute.

 

I've noticed I say "directly over" a lot. 

 

Seriously, this thread is so great for those little words that can clunk up your writing.  Everyone should be reading these boards.



#11 AshemDragon

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 02:17 PM

In 57k words I have

"seem" and its derivatives: 68 times... yikes.

"look": 46 times... 178 if I include its derivatives  :wacko:

"slight(ly)": 29 times. Less than I expected; I feel like I use "slightly" to describe everything

"very": only 13 times, and I usually use it to emphasize location, ("very near," (as opposed to "a couple inches away") "very edge," "very outskirts," etc)

 

One of my personal overused words would probably be, "particular," which I actually only use 9 times, but it feels like more.

 

On a side note, what's y'all's opinions on letting yourself overuse words as long as they're uncommon words to begin with? Like using an uncommon word a lot and potentially having it become part of your sorta signature style? Anyone else think this is possible while still writing well?



#12 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 02:56 PM

 

On a side note, what's y'all's opinions on letting yourself overuse words as long as they're uncommon words to begin with? Like using an uncommon word a lot and potentially having it become part of your sorta signature style? Anyone else think this is possible while still writing well?

 

All I think of is Twilight, and the abuse of the poor word "chagrin."  :laugh: Although I'm sure it can be pulled off better than that. I am partial to certain "less common" words, but after editing through my MS a few times, I felt like they popped up too frequently and did a find and replace to get rid of some of them.



#13 lnloft

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 05:00 PM

On a side note, what's y'all's opinions on letting yourself overuse words as long as they're uncommon words to begin with? Like using an uncommon word a lot and potentially having it become part of your sorta signature style? Anyone else think this is possible while still writing well?

I'd be careful with that sort of thing. Unusual words stand out, so you don't have to use them a lot to make them seem like they're overused. The example I can think of is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. Between the three books (each over 200,000 words) I would probably be overestimating if I said he used the word "maladroit" and its derivatives ten times. So statistically speaking, there are definitely words that he overused more, but those were the ones I noticed because it's not a word that pops up that often. And if you really start overusing an unusual word, it might just seem like you learned that word and now want everyone to know that you learned it.

 

Phrases, if used sparingly, could lend more of a signature style. I know I have a couple manuscripts that use the dialogue: "Sorry," he/she said, not sounding very. Whether or not it's a good phrase is something we can discuss later, but in ten or so manuscripts I've probably used it three times. Just be careful not to overuse those, either, especially when it's not very unique. I swear we could make a drinking game out of how many times a character from a Jim Butcher book "arched an eyebrow".


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.





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