How to check on overused words in your novel

If you’ve been writing for a while, you probably know that sometimes we writers have a habit of reusing the same words over and over throughout our manuscripts.  This is especially common for those of us who write sporadically.

Catching this pesky overused words not only tightens up our manuscript but by identifying them helps us to proactively stop (over)using them.

Banner: How to check on overused words in your novel.

Introducing Wordcounter

So I came across this great website called Wordcounter created by Steven Morgan Friedman, that allows you to paste in some text and the program will scan through it and rank the most frequently used words.

It’s a simple, clean website that’s easy to use and gives fast results.

Who would use it?

Wordcounter is great for writers, editors, students, bloggers etc.  If you write things and worry that you are repeating some words throughout your work, this website will catch them for you.

Is it really necessary?

Maybe not, but we’ve all read books that by the time we get to page 5 we are sick to death of seeing the same word crop up.  I once read a book (that I do love) which used iron-shod so often it really started to annoy me every time it came up.

If even professional writers have been redundantly using the same words over and over, then the rest of us will most likely be doing it too.

Is it expensive?

Nope, this is one of those awesome free websites that someone has put together and thrown out to the world for our use.  Can’t beat that!

How much text can it take?

I have tested it with over 5000 words and it was accepted and took less than a minute to bring back the results.

Since my laptop is full of gremlins and my internet connection is often hanging by a thread, I didn’t want to paste in a larger amount in case it egg-timed and then crashed (which happens daily).

However, if you have a less crazy laptop and non-dodgy internet connection you might want to try and include more (drop me a message if it works with how many words you tried and the speed of which the results came back).  Or just do it a chapter at a time.

What are the options?

There are three options you can change.

Small Words

This allows you to either include or exclude small filler words such as “the”, “it”, “if” etc.

Roots

This allows you to decide to group variations together or not.

List of words

There is an option for you to decide how many words it will list in the result.  It gives four choices: 25, 50, 100 and 200 words.

Do you have a link?

Of course, do you think I would make you go hunting?

Here’s the link to Wordcounter.

Anything else I should know?

This website is still in beta testing, but it seems to work pretty well.  They are looking to eventually develop it so that full documents can be uploaded rather than having to copy and paste text.

I am a big believer in supporting projects like this, where people are creating cool, useful resources and sharing them for free to help others.

Also, I apparently use “reach” and “dark” a lot! :p

Test it out and let me know what your top three words are.  Leave them in the comments below.

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Thanks for visiting this blog and I hope you enjoyed this blog post.  Feel free to drop me questions and comments. 

For those who are new to this blog, welcome!  Hope you stick around.  I post 4 times a week.  For details of what to expect on what day, check out my Blogging Schedule.

Thanks so much for all the likes, follows and shares.  You guys are the best!

Happy writing

Ari

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23 thoughts on “How to check on overused words in your novel

  1. My most-used word is ‘said’. Strangely, the word ‘ey’ came up 7 times in my result. I don’t think I’ve used this word at all, as I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist! Otherwise, a useful tool. Thank for posting. 🙂

  2. I use it as part of standard editing equipment. One can ignore invisible everyday words like ‘a’ and ‘the’
    and ‘in’, but it is valuable for things like ‘very’ and ‘most’ and ‘OK’ and ‘so’ where one can be shocked to see how many times they have been repeated.

    • That is a common one. I tell my writers, ‘Only use that word if it is with something that can’t quite be made out; on most occasions something is or it isn’t. If it seems to be then it is.’

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