We have a ritual we indulge in when a book is finished. Besides chocolate and whooping and hollering. By finished, we mean the words are down on the virtual page. Not the final words but close enough that we feel we have some breathing space before the manuscript is due to the editor.
The ritual is called— REVISION! And it starts with discovering unique words–or rather the lack of them.
While Catherine finishes the last part of the first draft, based on our plot and scene outlines, Donald works on the first draft pages already finished. Since we know our manuscripts have lots of repetitive words (which happens when you just keep writing and don’t agonize over every word choice), we decided to buy a word counting program to help us find those pesky words we use over and over. Donald settled on the MS Word Word Count and Frequency Statistics Software. We run every manuscript through the program to pare down repetition.
We’re not going to bore you with how many times we use the word pull, or any variety of the word, unless you ask. Nor will we say how many times we use the word the–which, by the way, was the most frequently used word. But then what is a substitute for ‘the’? The computer thesaurus and Roget’s don’t even list synonyms for ‘the.’
What we did find interesting is that out of 123,237 words in one of our manuscripts, we only used 9,440 unique words to create that book.
Which caused Catherine to wonder:
Is it possible to write something of any size without using words twice? Perhaps we’ll try. Can’t say whether the composition would have merit nor quality, but attempting such might be fun. Pick up our challenge. See how many unique sentences with a common thread you can pen before hitting brick walls. Already, ten expressions needed adjusting while scripting this paragraph. Good luck!
Take up our challenge and let us know how many words you managed to write before you couldn’t insert a unique word. We’d love to know how this little exercise works out for you.