Friday, August 6, 2010
Posted by Angie
First up is something I recently read off someone's blog and I sincerely apologize to the original poster but I can't remember who it was (I searched my dashboard and couldn't find it, so if you posted this let me know so I can give you credit). Addendum: Yay! She read my post. Here's the link to Meredith's original tip. The writer suggests that you type your story in Courier New font until it's as polished as it can be, then change everything to Times New Roman. She says that she always, always finds little errors that she missed. Well, I tried this and even though my manuscript is not done, I can tell you that it works. I think it comes from the idea that your eye is trained to see things a certain way so when you've been looking at your manuscript in a particular font for so long errors fade into the background. When you switch font, suddenly your eye picks those things up. I found so many mistakes and little errors. So now I'm training my eye in Courier and when its ready for querying I'll change it back to TNR and see what I missed. I think the trick works for any font combination, but I've kind of gotten used to courier now. A little corollary that I'd like to add to this is to view your document in double pages - full screen reading for you Word users - it makes it that much easier to see your work in full and you can pick out paragraphs that are too long, snippets of dialogue that run on without any breaks, etc. etc.
My second editing tip is searching for over used words. There are lots of them, but I'm going to focus on the word had. First of all it doesn't sound good when you have a lot of these strung together in a paragraph and second, you can often pinpoint parts that are too backstory heavy when you see three or more of these together. A quick tip is to use the find feature, type in had and then click on the 'highlight all' button. That way you can quickly flip through the pages hunting for paragraphs where had is overused (3 or more times). Now you certainly don't have to delete or reword all of them, but often times just some slight variations can make the paragraph sound better - and even help you to delete extra words. The only thing that's slightly annoying is when you go into the paragraph to make changes it removes all of the highlights so you have to re-click it. There may be a way around this but I haven't found it yet. You can do the same thing to quickly hunt for adverbs by typing in ly. Now you might say, but Angie, that will highlight so many things!! Actually if you're writing is sound then it won't, (I tried it and yes it does highlight some things besides adverbs, but not that many) and if you're an adverb junkie then that would be one way to rid yourself of the habit. My recommendation is to limit yourself to 1 maybe 2 adverbs per page.
Those are my tips for the day. If you have a quick tip you'd like to share, let me know!!
I made a quick revision to this post after reading the link that Joann provided and making a wordle picture of my manuscript. I also copied all of my words into Excel so now I'll have a working list. Thanks Joann!!
Labels: writing tips ·