Tag s | words

Every Word Counts

Many years ago while editing a nonfiction book, I noticed the author had a proclivity for using the word “very” quite often. To me the repetition jumped off the page.

After deleting 95% of its use, I returned the manuscript; the author was mortified that their work had such an obvious error in it. Hilariously, I later received an email with the word “very” repeated over and over, at least 500 times (very very very very very very, etc.). Then came the message, “Just trying to get that word out of my system before I write my next book.”

Recently I came across a cool online tool where you can see which of your words are repeated too often. Use this link to the WordCounter.net website and run your WIP (work in progress) within its walls.

I ran the Guidelines page on our website in this counter. In a 1,887-word document, I use the word “proposal” 28 times, the word “mail” 20 times, and the word “book” 19 times. Not abnormal considering the nature of the article.

Out of curiosity I ran the full text of a public domain edition of the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’Kempis (59,454 words) and discovered that the word “God” is used 410 times, “things” 336 times, “man” 260 times, and “good” 217 times. On the site there is a little check box on the statistic box that allows it to review three words used together. This book uses the phrase “above all things” 20 times.

The reading level was evaluated to be at 11-12th grade.

In other words (no pun intended), the sample book is well written without odd words or phrases that were overused.

Which begs the question about your work in progress. What words have you overused in your manuscript?

Later I took one paragraph from the A’Kempis book at random and entered it into the system and clicked to have it check for plagiarism. It took me to grammarly.com which reported, “We’ve found 6 writing issues in your text and have also detected significant plagiarism.” To verify the issues, you have to sign up on that site and pay for their services. But apparently teachers use this to check students’ papers for plagiarism.

Read their Privacy Policy to make sure you are comfortable transmitting your work to a website based in Switzerland.

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Five Dollar Words

“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” – Mark Twain One of my daughters is an Arts and Visual Technology major, so of course she has to read articles about art. Here are a few sentences from an eight-page article, “Modernist Painting” by Clement Greenburg. The …

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The Sound of Words

One of the things I love most about working with words is that I will never reach the point where I can say, “There, now. I’ve learned it all.” Love, love learning new things. Especially when it’s something I can share with all of you. So, have you ever heard …

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Not All Words Are Created Equal

Twice in the last few weeks something happened that got me thinking about how very careful we need to be when revising, either our own work or someone else’s. First, during a worship team practice, the leader changed the words of a song from “You give and take away,” referring …

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The Power of a Single Word

According to various sources there are about one million words in the English language. Approximately 750,000 of them are technical or scientific. That leaves us with 250,000 words with which to communicate. But the Oxford English Dictionary Unabridged has only 170,000 words in it. And I doubt any of us …

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Wordsmiths of the World, Unite!

Did you know you’re a wordsmith? If you’re a writer, you are. A wordsmith is defined by Webster’s as a “craftsman or artist whose medium is words.” That, my friends, is you. Which is why I’m coming to you today and asking you to have mercy on your readers. (Yes, …

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Worshipping Words

Yesterday was a strange and eerie anniversary.  Six hundred years ago, on May 4, 1415 the body of Bible translator and Christian dissident John Wycliffe was exhumed from his grave in England, burned and his ashes were thrown into the river. And if that wasn’t weird enough, this was done …

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A Love Affair with Words

I love writers. Love how much they love words. Love how they seem to know from the earliest age, that words are more than just letters strung together, they’re… Power. Persuasion. Delight. Wonder. Magic. As I pondered this, I looked back at those early days when I started to discover …

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The Care and Feeding of … WORDS!

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
Pearl Strachan

“By words the mind is winged.”
Aristophanes

“The turn of a sentence has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught that we know, the fate of many a kingdom.”
Jeremy Bentham

Amazing, isn’t it? Something so small as words can have such huge impact.

The right word in any circumstance can bring peace, comfort, laughter, tears. It can elicit emotion, stir action, deliver forgiveness, change lives. For generations, words have moved and motivated. Writers, steeped in the wonder of words, have poured their hearts out on stark paper, only to have those pages come to life in ways they never imagined, and to have their words live on in the hearts and minds of readers long after they’ve been read.

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