One of those interesting statistics

By Holly Lisle

While editing, I used a word that dinged on my consciousness as having been in the book too often. The word? Looked.

Scrivener has a word frequency counter that will tell you exactly how many times you’ve used a word—one of the things I have been missing and yearning for since the days when I wrote with WordStar.

I used looked 141 times. 141 times.

Most of those times are post-revision. The majority of the rest of the words in the heavy-use section were articles, prepositions, or proper nouns for main characters—which is as it should be.

141 times on a single verb, though. That’s heavy. The next most battered verb was turned, with 89 appearances. That’s not great, either. After that, verbs improve, showing up a rational number of times in a book with 60,000+ words.

Adjectives were mostly very lean, with two exceptions. Just (92), one of my regular bugbears, will also suffer a hunt-and-destroy, as will very (40).

It’s lovely to have the power in my hands to find these annoyances, identify how bad the problem is—and then hunt the offending words down and kill them.

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