After completing the first draft of my book, “A Gift…Only Borrowed”, I made the mistake of doing a word search in the Navigation Pane that is available on Microsoft Word.
Apparently, I liked the word ‘Just’ a lot. When I first looked at my original manuscript, I learned that I had used that word 182 times!! That may have been just too many times, I guess.
When you write one chapter at a time and don’t go back and check what you had written a few days or weeks ago, you don’t realize just how many times you used a specific word or phrase.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word ‘Just’ means: “Having a basis in or conforming to a fact of reason.” Also, “Conforming to a standard of correctness (Proper). Additionally, ‘Just’ could mean: “Conforming or behaving according to what is morally right and fair, or what is righteous, deserved, or lawful.” If used as an adverb: “Exactly, Precisely, Barely, Immediately, Directly, Quiet, Perhaps, Possibly, Almost.”
After reading Stephen King’s book on writing, one of his first clues to success is to put the story down for a couple of weeks, return to it and take out 20%. You probably don’t need all the extra text, and it adds nothing to the story, plot, or journal. Unless your writing an article for a medical journal, or perhaps instructions for anything you purchased from IKEA, you probably have a little too much text.
So, after coming back to read the final version, I realized I liked the word ‘Just’ a little too often. Reading through what I thought was my final version and getting my book ready for publication, I used the Navigation Pane in the Word software, and found every time and everywhere the word ‘just’ popped up. Word Navigation will highlight in yellow everywhere you used a particular word or phrase in your text.
I decided I need to make some subtle and not so subtle changes in my story of 4,000 words. I eliminated the word just or found an appropriate synonyms to use. Mostly, I
just simply removed it and it didn’t affect the story at all.
After making those changes, I still used the word ‘Just’ 82 times, but it seemed more readable and concise. I stumbled onto the portion of the Microsoft Word software about that tool, but boy, what a find. Once I finished working the story with a more reasonable use of the word ‘Just’, I also looked for words or phrases. For example: much of my story takes place within the confines of Columbus Children’s Hospital, most notably, in “Ward 2 Tower South” of Columbus Children’s Hospital.
I found I could make changes to using that phrase so often. Sometimes it makes sense to be as specific as needed, but not every time.
What a great tool Microsoft offers in many of their multiple software programs!!
I was able to fix my problem
just in time, or “in the nick of time!”