I gave up making New Year resolutions some years ago. No point in putting pressure on myself to achieve things I’ll likely give up on in the first few weeks. Several friends have decided to do a ‘dry January’. One of them is now suffering from headaches, withdrawal-type symptoms. The other one lasted three days. I’m with her.
Plus, I’ve got 5 bottles of whisky to start making inroads on. All Christmas presents, two from my beloved and the three-bottle F&M selection from my brother. My resolution, should I decide to make a belated one, could be to finish these by the end of the year. (My wife is Scottish, but hates whisky – so I’m on my own with this one!)
I was asked fairly recently—by a young man—whether it was necessary to drink a lot to be a published author. I guess he was thinking of someone like Hemingway. I do most of my writing in the morning when the only liquids I’ve consumed are orange juice, coffee and water (in that order).
Non-resolutions aside, my first task of 2017 has been to try and finish another novel. So last week I read through the first draft of my current work-in-progress and marked areas that needed attention as well as spotting repetitions. Using the handy ‘Find’ feature in Word, I discovered I had used ‘then’ 144 times in a word count of just over sixty-one thousand. So that was an hour of my life gone as I worked through the document to reduce the total number.
Then, I moved onto the second word I had noted. This time 209 instances of the word ‘well’ were found. Well, well, well!
It seems I have a habit of starting dialogue with this word. “Well, isn’t this fun?” I suspect this stems from my own conversational tic. When I’m uncertain of what I’m going to say, I will probably use ‘well’ as a stalling device. Less obvious than a stuttering ‘um’ or ‘er’, perhaps. But not if overused.
So, another hour or so passed as I went through the document discarding ‘well’ wherever it appeared. As with ‘then’, I left some in.
‘Usual’ was another high scorer in my repetition league table but not as high as ‘well’ or ‘then’. I was pleased to find I had only used ‘wetness’ twice and ‘wet’ fourteen times. I thought I could get away with the latter as the story is set in the UK and some of the ‘wet’ words refer to the weather.
On my next read-through, I’m sure I’ll find plenty more repetitious words but I’m hoping not as many as this time. Maybe I should just put the whole document through a word cloud generator.
Back to the writing now to knock this WIP into shape. Then I can submit it and…well, hope for the best.
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