Pet Peeves: Don't Let Frequently Used Words Get You Down

We all have them. Pet phrases or words that crop up like weeds in our manuscripts. I use Scrivener software to write, and one of my favorite features lets me check my word frequency. If you haven't been won over by Scrivener yet, there are a couple of other websites that will help you target overused words and phrases.

I found two free sites that help with finding frequently used words. WordCounter is an application that will search for the most frequently used words in a body of text. You copy and paste a section of text in the box, and hit "go". The user chooses whether or not to include small words like "the" and "and". Withing seconds, the site generates a list of the most-used words, beginning with the most highly used.

While the site is not capable of handling large documents (like an entire novel), I pasted an entire chapter. My most frequently used word was one I wouldn't have guessed. Time for a couple of tweaks.

The second site is similar, but this one tracks the overuse of phrases. WriteWords will identify recurring phrases in a document. The user chooses whether these are two-word phrases, or up to ten-word phrases. This was really helpful for me. Some of my phrases are used several times because it's a part of my character's speech pattern, but other times, I just didn't think of a fresh way to say something.

If you're a more visual writer, you may enjoy checking your word frequency in a more artistic way. Wordle is the tool for you. It's amazing how many free tools are out there for writers to use. Check back next week for a great way to find cliches in your writing.

Did you find some overly-used words? What other tools do you use to keep your writing fresh?

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