All writers know that they could edit their works forever. Picking at nits for eternity.
This happens for a few reasons, but the most common are:
- Error blindness
Most authors are at least somewhat neurotic when it comes to their work, I know I am! After four or five really hard passes, just let it go into the wild. If an agent or publisher thinks you have what it takes, they’ll let you know, even if what you’re peddling isn’t what they’re buying, they know what good writing looks like.
But the main reason I made this post is that pesky second reason, error blindness.
We know our stories inside and out.
They are our children.
This is why we don’t see the flaws.
We know what the story is supposed to be saying. But that’s not always what it IS saying. our minds gloss over the mistakes/problems and we think it’s all good.
**Cue dramatic music**
I found out something amazingly helpful. And it’s at zero cost. …Well, time invested. that’s a cost, I suppose.
What is this miraculous thing, you ask?
**Dum dum dum!**
So, Word and most other text editors have the ability to use macros. and Modern text editors are pretty damned smart. They can predict what you’re going to write, can recognize mistakes in grammar and useage!
So when you tell your text editor to have a look at your document for you… the results can be pretty amazing.
Here is an example of one I use a lot. It’s called Needless Words:
‘ Highlights unnecessary words
‘ Written by Roger Mortis, revised by subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod; word list by Janice Hardy
Dim range As range
Dim i As Long
TargetList = Array(“then”, “almost”, “about”, “begin”, “start”, “decided”, “planned”, “very”, “sat”, “truly”, “rather”, “fairly”, “really”, “somewhat”, “up”, “down”, “over”, “together”, “behind”, “out”, “in order”, “around”, “only”, “just”, “even”, “gave”)
For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)
Set range = ActiveDocument.range
.Text = TargetList(i)
.Format = True
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = True
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
range.HighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise
SO. Don’t be scared by the wall of code. Just make note of that target list. Those words are often times unneeded (thus the name). So what the macro does, is search the document and highlight all of them. So you then go through it and determine if each instance is indeed useless. An example, is When you say:
Janice sat down at the table
The macro says:
Janice sat down at the table
because “Janice sat at the table” is a stronger sentence, you can remove down with confidence.
**Do look for a ‘turn highlight off’ macro as well, for when you’re done.**
But you can’t be lazy!
You must still do the work, because all this does is highlight suspect words. It’s up to you to recognize what makes a sentence stronger. For example, I generally ignore suggestions that appear in dialog, because that would strip out that character’s personality from it.
You can add words or phrases to that list too. I like to add in long form contractions, because when I write, often I forget to use contractions, and my writing looks pretentious because of it. Shapow! contractions!
So, flex your Google-Fu and research macros for writers. Your work will thank you for it.
Hey, if this has been helpful to you at all, please comment and share!