We all make mistakes in early drafts--and I'm a firm believer in letting the creative juices flow without self-editing as I go. (I'll let you know how that works out if I ever actually manage to accomplish it.) But since I wanted to try this out, I took the opening 10,000 words of the first draft of The Dream Weaver, the YA Paranormal I am currently working on, and ran a quick analysis.
It was easy to spot the words I had overused, and the words weren't even much of a surprise. (See my post on using a Pre-Submission Checklist.) Still, a quick search and replace made the manuscript instantly stronger. Not only that, but as a bonus the process let me catch all my similes and look at them out of context to see if they really worked. And, the places where I used some of these words were clearly missed opportunities that let me put in much more specific language and details. I ran another check and had a much better result.
Bear in mind, this is a twenty-minute quick and dirty revision on 10,000 words. I obviously have a lot of work, and many, many drafts left to do even once I finish this manuscript.
To give you an idea of what a published manuscript might look like, here's the cloud for the first 10,000 words of Cassandra Clare's YA Paranormal, City of Bones.
This may not be the ultimate revision tool for writers, but it's a fun one. For those of us with the ADD-like symptoms of writer's revisionoia, it's a great place to get a lot of payback for very little effort.
Couldn't resist adding one more. Here's a word cloud of Twilight, which looks much more like mine. I wonder if that's the difference between first person and third person POV. Hmmh. Might be worth doing more of these to check. I wonder if there's a pattern?
More info and many thanks:
Thanks to the folks at write4kids.com for describing how we writers can apply this tool: