Tune in to word frequency

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

One of the fun things I’ve done with my recently completed draft is to plug it into word frequency counters. These are free online tools that give you a list of your most common words. After you skip past the ones you’d expect (articles, pronouns, conjunctions, etc.), you start to see some interesting patterns. Here are just a few reasons to check out your word frequency:

  • Identify characters you mention the most — and the least.
  • Find out which verbs you use the most.
  • Hunt down and kill common adverbs.
  • Spot repeated metaphors or descriptions.
  • Discover possible new directions for revision.

There are many word and phrase frequency tools out there. I like the one at Write Words the best. It includes both words and phrases, with options to search for specific phrase lengths. The tool at Text Fixer gives you an option to exclude common words, making your job easier. There’s even an add-in for Microsoft Word by Greg Maxey, which gives you the same kind of functionality for your favorite word processor.

So check your word frequency — you don’t want to end up like Dan Rather and become the inspiration for an R.E.M. song.

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One Response to Tune in to word frequency

  1. This is a great post, Chris. Thank you for pointing out the available resources. Word and phrase frequency does matter.

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