Managing your language when writing

Even if you are an author who writes just for his/her self, there are still some aspects of writing which could be improved using the following tools.

Word Frequency Count

This applet reads through your submission – even full length manuscripts – and then reports how many times you’ve repeated a word. Doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes word repetition can become tiresome to your reader, especially when the words being repeated are unusual or remarkable. Use this tool to hone your writing skills by finding which words you favour too often. Then, open up your manuscript and run a search for those words, using your thesaurus (or brain!!) to replace them. Especially watch for the dreaded ‘that’ which is usually unnecessary! And when writing, look for expressive verbs instead of using adjectives, then you won’t have so many adjectives show up in your repeat count.

The Phrase Frequency Counter
Same reasoning as above. Amazon has a feature called ‘Statistically Improbable Phrases’ active with their Search Inside the Book feature, which tells prospective purchasers what strange and unusual phrases you might have in your book, but having those wierd phrases repeated too many times might turn a reader off. Thanks to Mathew Ferguson over at Kindle boards for those two.

Readability Index: Who is your target audience?

If your novel is going to target children or young adults, then readability tests will ensure your are not speaking way above their heads! I’m not saying our kids aren’t smart, but if your narrative is reading at a fourth year university level, you may have some trouble engaging those twelve-year-olds. When selecting a textbook for science class, we sometimes use the SMOG index to determine which works for applied verses academic students.


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