“You have a new favorite word,” Larry said, looking at me in somber disapproval. Larry’s the godfather of my local crit group, and they’ve been reading my recently completed vampire novel.
Uh-oh. “What’s that?”
Did I use “then” a lot? Nah, surely Larry was imagining things.
So I headed to my new favorite website, The Word Frequency Calculator, and plugged in my entire manuscript, all 92,000 words of it.
Holy word choice, Batman. I used “then” 299 times in my manuscript, and I know enough about writing to realize that, most likely, 298 of them should be axed. I also used “was” 800 times. And used the word “slipped” 26 times, which can’t be good. Lucy, I think we’ve got some editing to do.
Are these new bad habits I’ve picked up? Obsessively, I went back to the Word Frequency Calculator and plugged in my first two books. “Then” appeared 100 times in one and 110 in the other, and in 95,000-word documents, that’s somewhat better, so my fondness for “then” is an escalating problem, apparently.
Visit the calculator–it’s an interesting way to find those pesky word echoes we can’t see in our own work. THEN we can fix them.