Am in that part of the editing process where I’m totally happy with the story, and just have to do a lot of work on individual sentences – the copy editing stage.
This is a stage that I would usually tell authors that they can’t do terribly effectively themselves. And I do think that’s true, and I will be sending the manuscript on to an editor in due course. In the mean time I’m putting the book chapter by chapter through an automated checker.
What this shows is that I have a real issue with overused words like “was/were” and “could”, and the other frequent flyers are “think/believe” and “feel/felt”. Most of the time I find ways to rewrite a sentence to remove many of these instances.
Only this book is proving a problem. The story is a thriller told from two points of view, for the first half of the book, the characters are separate, and they have lots of questions. Questions about each other and what they are doing and what they are capable of doing. So there’s a lot of lines like, “Was he doing this?” or “Could she do that?”
What this means is that I am doing everything I can to reduce numbers in line with the program, but I’m just not getting there in some cases. Still, the thing to remember is that these program have been written against rules. Rules for general purposes, there will be times when those rules have to be broken and in a story of questions, was and could will be more used than in most scripts, I’m not going to knock myself out with it.