Shakespeare was rubbish, apparently. He only managed 20,000 words in his entire canon when the average vocab today is 40- 60,000 words. And he wrote loads. But then, how do you fit an aardvark into your plot?
That little nugget (courtesy of a re-run of QI on Dave) got me thinking about how broad my own vocabulary is and how much of it has managed to make its way into the first draft of my novel. I remember as a teenager reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and smiling at the eponymous hero’s offerings to literature – his majestic eagles flying majestically over the majestic mountains. “Ha!” I thought to myself, “If I ever got around to writing a book, I’d never do that!”
Well it turns out, I do. Thanks to the wonders of CTRL+F I’ve discovered a whole world of word repetition cluttering up the first draft of my novel. Okay, I can deal with the definite articles, but what about things like “worry” (33 times – there are a lot of anxious people in my book) or even “leather” (10 times – and I’m not doing an E.L. James)? I’d used “preposterous” 12 times!
Now, I’ll admit it – I like the word preposterous. I don’t think it’s possible to say it without spluttering, which in my book (pardon the pun) makes it almost onomatopoeic. But twelve times? Twelve?? All my characters said it! There was a veritable preponderance of preposterouses.
Adrian, I misjudged you mate. Next step in the editing process – CTRL+F for any word that sounds vaguely interesting.
Oh, and as I haven’t yet heard from Mr Bowie’s legal team, today’s title comes to you courtesy of Cameo. At some point, I’ll run out of these – but not today, dear reader, not today.