Somewhere in my many hours of self-editing and revision, I read about wordle. The designers call it a 'toy for generating word clouds' from text a user pastes in. Basically, the words are scrambled into a geometric pattern, and words used more frequently in the text appear larger than words used less often. It's a quick and easy way for a writer to check for overused words.
So I took my entire manuscript and pasted it in. Some words figured prominently, as expected: Sophie, photos, Papa, letters. But some seriously weak words were just as large: like, something, just, turned. How embarrassing.
Thank God for the 'find' function on Word, because I found over 100 repetitive, boring, and just plain awful uses of those words and changed most of them to stronger words. For some, I rewrote the whole sentence to avoid those flimsy words.
The result? The new wordle cloud shows predominantly characters' names, plus the words photos, camera, and eyes. That's better, much better.
I hope the ultimate result is an improved manuscript.