Monday, April 19, 2010

What Did You Find?

I have just sent Chuck Zaglanis, editor, my latest revision of  THE RAVENING. He had been threatening me, saying that if he didn't receive it soon, I would have to start watching "Glee". I already subject myself to "24". One Fox show is enough, don't you think?

But it occurred to me during the revision process what a friend technology has become for the writer. I won't spend a long time here dwelling on the internet, but instead let's look at a simple feature of Microsoft Word. I refer to the "Find" box. By entering the following search terms and examining each occurrence, my writing was stronger. Passive voice...be gone! So what are these words or phrases?

"that", "had been" "seemed" "was" and "and then".  Hmmmm...I seem to be missing something here. Ultimately, I've found doing this is more powerful than using Microsoft's pathetic "grammar check".

Unfortunately, I think I neglected to do this for the last part of the manuscript.  I hope Chuck isn't reading this.

Oh, and before I forget, consider using Wordle as well. Wordle is a cool little website that allows you to make word clouds. Try pasting an entire manuscript into the box and let the site do it's job.

It is one way of seeing what words you might be overusing and abusing.

8 comments:

Sullivan McPig said...

I also like the replace function as in my case I sometimes make the same spelling mistake throughout a story and with the replace function it's fixed in no time!

Charles P. Zaglanis said...

What a delightful present to find in my inbox. Thanks for the speedy rewrite Stewart.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, the "find" key has been my friend many times.

Steve Buchheit said...

Oh yes, the find. Not to be mistaken for universal search and replace. I tend to do my own personal search during the first read through. I also include the "started to", "began", "almost" and "back" (my favorite word it appears).

I can't get rid of all my was-es, but I slay quite a few (and tend to make stronger sentences).

Steve Buchheit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine Purcell said...

So, the novel re-write is done. Does that mean you're moving on to other, more demonic things? (Okay, that's the last time I'll bug you about the story, I swear).

I love the "find" key for fixing inconsistencies. My nemesis: using a word like "king" and then realizing near the end of the story that it really should be "King."

Travis said...

I do similar searches for "ing" words. The practice has helped me with economy. I usually find passages I can cut by 10-15%. It has also helped me find sneaky info dumps and turn them into dialog scenes.

Jon said...

The word I use that shows up HUGE in Wordle is "just." But sometimes it's just perfect.