Today's tip was sent in by Dale S. Rogers. Dale writes young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as articles, poetry, and adult fiction. You can find her at her blog here where she's been sharing some fun life anecdotes. Please give her a visit after you read her first tip submission below!
My Tuesday Tip involves using a word search to find the best words and sentence structure for prose. We all have pet words and phrases--those pesky little things that show up too often in our manuscripts. I never real- ized how much I overuse certain words until I utilized Ctrl F. I press and hold Ctrl, then I hit F. When the finder pops up, I type in the suspect word or phrase, click "find next," and watch the page numbers to gauge how close together the terms are as I continue the process.
Although time consuming, this tool has helped me to not only eliminate problem words, but to improve sentence structure, since I've also discovered other weaknesses in my writing while doing this in-depth search. When I find a substitute word for the one I've targeted, or decide the word can just be left out, I feel I'm improving my writing in more than one way. It's better to go through a document a little at at time, sincethis method can be tiring.
In addition to said, asked, and little, which we know to watch out for, some words I find so often in my work are: there, that, some, after, before, when, looked, glanced, thought, wondered, later, nodded, smiled, finished, finally, reached, and of the. I leave the ones that really belong, but other- wise, I try to find a better way to express what's going on, especially if the duplicate words are too close together. I just wish I'd started this practice years ago!
-Dale S. Rogers