Free Software Tells You Which Words You Really, Really, Really Overuse
There are certain indisputable truths in this world: 1. You should never hire anyone who doesn't know "your" from "you're" or "their" from "there." 2. An ice pick to the brain is the only guaranteed way to permanently remove "Call Me Maybe" from your head—no matter how above such matters you think you are. 3. You have certain words and phrases that you use more often than most people, but you're not aware of it.
A recently revamped tool called SmartEdit cannot help you deal with #2, as it is software and not an ice pick, but it is useful for the others. The program by Bad Wolf Software goes a few steps beyond standard spelling and grammar checks by scanning your writing for clichés and overused phrases and words. It also gives you a running count on your dialog tags, provides you with a full list of those pesky adverbs so that you can determine whether any of them can be killed and replaced with stronger verbs, and allows you to set up custom monitors for your personal problem words.
The only downside is that SmartEdit is Windows only. (After years as a savvy Mac user, I jumped on a friend's PC for this and now understand how a caveman would feel if handed an iPhone.) The free program itself is beyond simple, though, and worth the time to install if you are a PC user. The tool would be even more useful for longer works, such as novels.
I pasted in a short story I've been working on and after the scan, which was almost instant, SmartEdit revealed that—outside of my character's names—my most frequently used word was "like," which might be something I should look into. I really thought my crutch word would be "really" because I'm all about stressing how. much. I. mean. every. thing.
Are you already aware of words or phrases that you use too often in your writing? Are they the same ones that you overuse in speech?
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