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Apparently good writers (eg. William Shakespeare) use lots of different words, and bad writers (eg. me) use only a few different words.
So how about a search-and-replace tool for mediocre writers like me. You select a word in the text - the program counts the number of occurrences of that word.
The program also generates a list of synonyms (using a thesaurus) and counts the number of occurrences for those words.
If I've used the same word too often, the program should offer to go through and replace my boring word with random selections from the list of synonyms. I.e. each occurrence is replaced with a different word. Maybe I even get control over the relative percentages for each synonym.
Lots of weird ideas lead off of this one actually. Maybe later.
Similar randomizer scheme [bungston, Oct 04 2004]
||Good writers use lots of different words because they're aware of subtle differences between them. Throwing in random almost-synonyms (there are remarkably few exact synonyms in English, or any language) won't improve your writing. It'll make it worse, because you'll be wider of the mark.
||Synonyms books are good. I particularly enjoy his "Maigret" stories.
||[ravenswood] Mad libs for computers?