Every Word Counts

The popularity of last week’s post on the phrase counter set me on a journey to find something that would do the same sort of “counting” but instead focus on single word usage instead of phrases.

Use this link to the Word Counter web site and run your WIP (work in progress) within its walls.

As before I ran the Guidelines page on my web site in this counter. In a 1,278 word document I use the word “proposal” 21 times and the word “book” 20 times. Not abnormal considering the nature of the article.

So I tried to run the full text of a public domain edition of the book Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’Kempis (62,000 words) and it could not seem to handle it. Instead I tried only the first 5,000 words and discovererd that the word “God” is used 51 times, “man” 51 times, “good” 35 times, and “temptation” 22 times…in only the first 5,000 words.

So while I know this works just fine with smaller slices, your entire manuscript may not work as easily.

What words have you overused in your manuscript?

15 Responses to Every Word Counts

  1. Johnnie February 15, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    “Nondescript.” I fixed it by describing all but one of those nondescriptable objects. (I realized this when I read my manuscript straight through, then verified it with the find feature.)

    Johnnie

  2. Jennifer Shirk February 15, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I once used the word “just” 42 times in a chapter. THAT was kind of embarassing. 🙂

  3. Sarah Forgrave February 15, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    I’m with Jennifer. I have to eliminate a lot of “just”. Thanks for sharing this link!

  4. Marti Pieper February 15, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Cec Murphey’s intensive seminar cured me of “just” and “very.” I then realized I had become a “that”-a-holic (notice I didn’t say “that I had become”). Thanks for this helpful link.

    • Steve Laube February 15, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      I just can’t imagine the very idea of overusing such words…

  5. Heidi Willis February 15, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    The phrase counting page you suggested last week also has a word counting page. At the top of the original website you posted is the link.

    Or you can go directly to it here:
    http://www.writewords.org.uk/word_count.asp

    I don’t know if can handle 62,000 words, but it took my 10,000 word chapter I’m working on without a beat.

    And apparently I’m a “that” abuser. 🙂

    • Steve Laube February 15, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      Thank you Heidi for noticing that! I obviously missed the link.
      But if it took your 10,000 word chapter without any trouble then it is more efficient than the one I blogged about today!

      By the way, I couldn’t help but notice you wrote…a 10,000 word chapter? That is equivalent to about 30 pages in a finished book. That is a very long chapter…whether it is fiction or non-fiction. You may want to rethink that and see if there is a natural break (or two) in order to help your readers.

      • Heidi Willis February 15, 2011 at 10:13 am #

        Thanks Steve! I’m glad I could help!

        The “chapter” is actually more like a “timeframe.” Since I’m still working on it, I broke the book down into days (the novel takes place over ten days) to help me find things and move around in the larger document. When I’m done revising, it will probably be three “real” chapters. 🙂

  6. Whitney Bailey February 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Though at first both the word counter and phrase counter seemed to do nothing when I submitted my entire manuscript (88,000 words), patience proved it could handle that size. Submit your work, go do something else for awhile, and after five minutes or more you’re likely to come back to the results.

    I identified most of my overused phrases and words some time ago. The part that intrigued me was how these tools highlighted certain themes in my novel. If I had been trying to use the word “hands” so often I’m sure it would have seemed overdone but it’s nice to see that they showed up almost on their own. Funny though, that in my historical romance the word “love” was used only a handful of times.

  7. Susie Finkbeiner February 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    It looks like “mother” is the winner! 21 times in 2,500 words. Huh. Time to think of other words…Mama, Mommy, Maternal Figure…(le sigh).

  8. Gina Conroy February 16, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    I haven’t tried the link yet, but I use NoteTab Light (a free download)which calculated my 56,000 words in seconds. “And” and “with” came up over 300 hundred time!

    • Steve Laube February 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      Looks like a nice piece of freeware. Nice for those who forgot to bookmark this site!

      Do you use this text editor regularly or just for exercises like word counts?

      • Gina Conroy February 17, 2011 at 9:22 am #

        Just for word count. I’m not tech savvy enough to do anything else. The word count feature is simple to use if you know where to look. Just delete text then paste new text. Under tools there is a statistic button. You need to hit “more” to get each individual word counted. Hope it helps someone!

  9. M.E. Anders February 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    My favorite word to overuse is “fitness.” Being a “fitness” fanatic, it seems that all I want to talk about is “fitness.” In two sentences, I managed to mention “fitness” three times…now four. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to the website…adding it to my bookmarked sites.

  10. Christine Long February 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    The link is helpful. I uploaded 26 pages of text. The top repeated words are my characters names. I also am a “just” offender. Going back to fix that now! Thank you for the link!

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