Wednesday, July 18, 2007

As Promised

Repeated words in WIP's . . . only a week late. Hey, it's summer, right?

When I finished the revision into first person from third and I was going back to look at some of the scenes that ended up getting a LOT of reworking - and then ya get nervous thinking you've left in little typos and *loose* words - so of course I had to read it a third time JUST TO MAKE SURE - which I'm still not, but after awhile you just gotta mail it and move on to the next project . . .so ANYWAY, I started thinking about some words that began popping out at me over and over again. So I made a list and did the find/replace thing and discovered there were some words which stuck out like obnoxious gremlins.

Here they are:

1. Miserable - I kept worrying that I'd used this word verbosely, but it turned out I'd only used it 4 times in 80,000 words. I left them alone. Maybe I've just read this manuscript a dozen times too many so 4 turned into 48 in my mind.

2. Quickly - 41 times, revised down to 11

3. Suddenly - 22 times, revised down to 5

4. Instantly - 16 times, revised down to 5

5. Immediately - 11 times, revised down to 6

6. Stared - 28 times, revised down to 10 (My gosh, everybody plus the camels were staring at everything and everybody all the time! Enough already.)

7. Slowly - 18 times, revised down to 3. (My slowly's were actually slowing down the story)

8. Belly - 25 times. I got this down to 12 and patted myself on the belly - I mean back - because it IS a novel about belly dance, after all. But I also have 8 gut's and 12 stomach's and 7 abdomen's.

It was AMAZING how taking out the word usually ended up not just replacing it, but revising the entire sentence and paragraph into something tighter and smoother and more vivid. It was an interesting exercise, but surprising how long it took. But then NOTHING about revision is ever fast.

Formula: E.R.T. (estimated revision time) x
5 = A.T. (actual time)

Has anyone else ever done this, and what are your pet/favorite repeated words?

3 comments:

Barbara O'Connor said...

I love this post, Kimberley - because it always amazes me how we don't SEE those words we are using so many times. Thank goodness for copyeditors. When I get my ms. back and it has a little red checkmark over words I use a lot, I am always shocked. HOW did I miss them?

My overdone words? NOW, THEN, and EVERY NOW AND THEN

Sarah said...

I have done this. I searched for LOOK, FELT and "LY"

I am also careful to not accidentally repeat a word from the previous paragraph.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hey, thanks for the comments, Barbara and Sarah!

Those "ly" words get us every time, don't they? When I'm drafting it always seems like the perfect word when I'm so earnestly trying to convey the emotion or a character's expression, but later that same word feels like I'm trying too hard or I realize that I'm only skimming the surface of the emotion.

I was amazed that it took me SO LONG to do this exercise though. I spent about three long revision days!

Barb - I find it interesting that your copyeditor marks them for you. I think that's really cool. I don't recall my past copyeditors doing that, but maybe it's been too long to remember . . . thank goodness for astute copy editors, eh?

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