"You have a new favorite word," Larry said, looking at me in somber disapproval. Larry's the godfather of my local crit group, and they've been reading my recently completed vampire novel.
Uh-oh. "What's that?"
Did I use "then" a lot? Nah, surely Larry was imagining things.
So I headed to my new favorite website, The Word Frequency Calculator, and plugged in my entire manuscript, all 92,000 words of it.
Holy word choice, Batman. I used "then" 299 times in my manuscript, and I know enough about writing to realize that, most likely, 298 of them should be axed. I also used "was" 800 times. And used the word "slipped" 26 times, which can't be good. Lucy, I think we've got some editing to do.
Are these new bad habits I've picked up? Obsessively, I went back to the Word Frequency Calculator and plugged in my first two books. "Then" appeared 100 times in one and 110 in the other, and in 95,000-word documents, that's somewhat better, so my fondness for "then" is an escalating problem, apparently.
Visit the calculator--it's an interesting way to find those pesky word echoes we can't see in our own work. THEN we can fix them.