In any case, my time in Word when editing is split between typing in hand-written changes and actually doing the editing right there in the document. Mostly I try to do the first–I work slower on paper, so I think more about what I’m doing, which is a good thing.
- Ctrl+arrow keys — This is my primary navigation in the doc. Right/left moves you over words, up/down moves paragraphs. Hold down Shift while you’re at it, and selecting the text you want becomes a breeze. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for me watching someone move around with just the raw arrow keys.
- Ctrl+S — Save! I hit this without even thinking about it. Pause for any reason? My fingers blindly hit save without me having to get involved.
- Context menu key — a lot of newer keyboards have a key that essentially does a right-click. This is hugely useful, since it means I can get a context menu without having to touch the mouse. In Word specifically, it’s really great in conjunction with the red squiggles under misspelled words. When I see that I’ve typed something wrong, rather than fixing it myself, I just back up a couple characters, tap the context menu key and generally the first item will be the corrected word. Because of this, I rarely if ever actually run the full spell-checker.
- Grammar check — now I know, the grammar checking is rather basic and often gets confused. However, when I’m editing I’ll often change tense or shuffle words in other ways that make it easy to mis-type and screw up a sentence. I leave the grammar checking on since a lot of times if it highlights a sentence I’ll have dropped a word or changed something I shouldn’t have.
That’s the round-up of the most important things I use in Word.
Word Delta: -250 from editing, +3200 rewritten
Can’t think of much else at the moment, but that’s how I do it. Next time… moving from ink to bytes.
There’s a number of different ways that I edit my writing, often depending on the intensity of the changes that need to be made.
It used to be that I did just about everything on hard-copy. The computer was just for convenience, spell-checking and printing multiple copies. Not so much anymore. If I have a chapter that I’m pretty happy with (or if time’s short!) I’ll often do an edit right in the Word document itself. This allows me to fuss with things quite fast (you get pretty quick on the keys when you type for 8+ hours a day) and making plenty of minor revisions in a short period of time.
The second option is good old print editing. This is generally best for me if the piece needs a bit of work, but has some sound bones to it. One thing about hand-writing is that it forces you to slow down. This is both its attraction and its drawback. There’s more time to think, more vested effort in each word that I write on a page with a pen in hand. I consider more fully where I want to go before I commence. For this reason, all of the novels I’ve drafted (I’m on number five at present) have been written by hand. I do it in unlined sketch pads because I’m masochistic…
The last option for editing is something that I’m finding myself doing a lot more since I’ve gotten into the critique group. More often than I like, I’m confronted with the need to make major plot adjustments. In the past, I would likely have tried to salvage what I had, print it off and tinker with it trying to make it better. Whole-sale replacement, though, isn’t always that bad of a choice anymore. It’s actually easier in a lot of cases than trying to edit something into a shape that it just didn’t match to begin with.
That’s been the latest bit of work–I had a couple chapters that just needed some quick in-document editing, but then there’s a stretch that needs to be done fresh. Open a blank document and have at it!
Word Delta: +840 words
Perfectly realistic. It fit within the rules of the world I built, took care of keeping Kyle under control, even allowed for some nice hallucinations… but I had this sneaking suspicion something was wrong. The chapters felt like they were dragging, that not enough was happening in them. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was there. You shouldn’t have to worry about things getting boring while your main character is being held by a bunch of loonies!
Then in critique group, she hit it right on the head — “I want him to fight back!” By drugging him, I had taken away Kyle’s ability to act. I had turned him into a piece of scenery, and people don’t (typically) get that attached to scenery. It doesn’t matter if he succeeds in his fight or not–probably better if he doesn’t quite a bit of the time–but he has to at least try.
In one form or another, I’ve been fighting similar battles throughout my novel. To some extent, Kyle falls into his situation. It’s outside his control, he didn’t choose to become involved. But there’s a big difference between that and just letting him drift along through events like a wet piece of cloth.
Your character may not be in control, but at least he needs to fight back!
Word Delta for the Day: +270