Word Frequency and stuff you say too much, like stuff

Miss Brandy at Blood Toy brought up another wrinkle in your manuscript:

What is the frequency of words appearing in your manuscript? What are the words you use all the time? Which words are uncommonly high frequency use, other than the usual conjunctions and prepositions and pronouns?   I saw this elsewhere, and now we must examine it with laser focus. Why? Because you’re along for the ride.

I found this VBA script for Word… this one here. Copy the third one, that one, starts with “Sub WordFrequency()” and copy all the lines to “End Sub”.

Open Word and paste that thing into a macro.

View> Macros > View Macros, then Create one.

To run it, open your document and then View > Macros > View Macros, click on the name of your macro, click Run.

Here’s my top 10:

200         in
183         you
172         i
160         on
139         yuen
138         it
116         was
108         she
107         with
106         we

Oh. You see those? 116 was. 138 its. (To be fair, I don’t think my its are the unsupported variety that were beat up here in Marcus Trower’s post. However, I haven’t checked that yet. I’m still reeling from the passive voice corrections.)

Since Yuen is my protagonist, and she speaks fairly often, I’m okay with the 139 instances of her name. I wonder what my obsession with “in” is? Guess I’ll go look, now.

8 thoughts on “Word Frequency and stuff you say too much, like stuff

  1. I use scrivener which gives me word count for every single word in the book. In clocks in at #12 for me at 1081 uses (above the, i, to, a, and, of, you, he, my, his and it…ah it!) I actually only use shadow 61 times.


    • It sounds like it’s not really an annoyance if it’s a necessary story element. I was reading, I think it may have been Kristin, but who can tell? There’s so many excellent places to obtain advice–about the writers who overuse a phrase or word, to the point that the reader is pretty annoyed by the 5th time it rolls around. One author I know has all his characters roll their eyes in response to just about everything. An editor would break him of that. He tells excellent stories, so I overlook the eyerolling but it would help the story so much to eliminate that.

      How many times do you use “blood” in the manuscript?


        • What’s your highest grossing substance word? One that’s not an article, conjunction, or common verb? Beyond those pesky little one syllable wonders, that is… ?

          Something I noted about my prose is that there are a LOT of one syllable words in the common ones. Less common, like 15 uses or so, were the 2 and 3 syllable words. Fascinating. I know there’s a function somewhere to determine the grade level your writing hits, which is based on the number of words in your sentences, the number of syllables in the words, and other factors too numerous to list, or in this case, that I am too lazy to look up. It might be interesting to see what that metric says about my writing. This inspires another post about grade level you write at!


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