Yesterday I started what I'm hoping are the final rounds of edits. I had three readers go through this latest draft and while their edits were minor, they all caught details that will help make my manuscript shine.
I don't know if you read the editing article that I linked on Thursday, but one of the points said to do a search for crutch words, or words that you use too often. Especially adverbs. Yeah, those dreaded -ly words. I was very conscious of my adverb usage while writing -- in fact, there were so few that I added a lot during subsequent drafts -- so I wasn't too concerned with purple prose, but there are a couple words that I know I use a lot.
Especially, finally, actually, only, and just.
I used the handy Find tool to search for each word, and highlighted them a certain color so they'd stand out. Then I scrolled through and counted. Yes, it was very time consuming.
I started with actually -- only 20. Not bad.
Next up, especially -- too few to even count.
Next, finally -- 15. Huh. Not even even one per chapter. Maybe it's not as bad as I thought.
Only -- 125. Hmm... not terrible, but I'm sure I can remove a few of those.
Finally (*snort), just -- 218. Excuse me? *double checks* Yes, 218. As in, almost 20 per chapter. But there are several chapters with only one or two instances, which means I used just way more than ten times in the other chapters. I was scared at how many times I'd written it two or three times in one paragraph, but the worst offender is page 97: just appears six time. SIX. After a quick reread, there's only one instance that I can delete without rewriting (or at the very least finding a new word), so I've got some work ahead of me. Ugh.
Do you have any words you overuse? Do you know of an easier way to count how many times a word occurs without doing it manually?