by Tim Kane
After slogging through multiple rewrites, I thought I was done. Then came the critique. I had overused the same sort of physical reaction over and over again in the book. I turned to the best tool I had: Search and Replace.
This is an awesome feature in most word processors, but don’t take it for granted. It can’t write your story for you. Here are some of the steps I went through to fix a 75,000 word document.
- Use the search to find each keyword, but don’t automatically replace. Then you’ll simply replace one redundant phrase with another.
- Try rewriting the phrase so that’s it’s different. In my case I had my protagonist having an amped up heartbeat everywhere. I switched this to breathing, or nerves, or tingling.
- Cut when you can. If you can do without the phrase, axe it.
- Keep track of pacing. I wrote down the page number each phrase appeared on. If the next one was 8 or 10 pages away, I felt I could keep it. If not, then I had to modify or cut.
- Finally, do a read through of each modified paragraph before moving on. Sometimes that simple tweak can mess up the grammar.
Use the Search and Replace tool as a way to save time, but use it intelligently.