Wow, I had no idea how many times I used the word “very.”
Now, of course, I don’t mind using adverbs, in reasonable moderation. Certainly more than some people use. And “very” is exactly the right word sometimes, because people do use the word when they’re talking, right? Sometimes it just sounds right in dialogue. Plus you get phrases like “the very edge of the cliff”, where “very” is clearly irreplaceable. But, still, I think I removed over half of all instances of the word.
Only about a tenth of the semicolons, though. I actually thought most of those were good where they were. And I didn’t take out more than about a fifth of all the dashes. Especially the parenthetical dashes. I nearly always dislike parentheses in fiction, and a lot of the time parenthetical commas don’t work right. Hence the dashes. Plus how else are you going to show that someone got interrupted, or interrupted herself? Ellipses have a completely different feel.
The “find” command is so handy for this kind of super-boring nitpicky editing. But you know what I long for that I don’t have? I want a function that will show you every time you use the same word more than, say, twice in three paragraphs. I have no idea how you could write that kind of program, though, because obviously you’d need to exclude tons of little words: articles like “a” and “the”, pronouns, conjunctions. But it would be SO HANDY to be able to notice that you used the word “very” twice in two sentences, or had someone say something “quietly” three times on the same page, or all those other repetitions that look so horrifically stupid in the final version.
Copy editors do look for this kind of stuff, by the way. I just want something more foolproof than the human eye, even the skilled and dedicated human eye.
Anyway: done now! The WIP manuscript went off to my agent ten minutes ago. This the version that will go to my editor. Fingers crossed that she’ll love it!