Category Archives: Editing

The Blessings of Modern Technology.

Isn’t modern technology great? I remember in 1990 going to the public library to type my resume on an IBM Selectric typewriter. If I made a mistake I started over. It took a long time to type my resume. Today I open up a word processor, type it up. modify it to look pretty, and print it out on a laser printer. So much easier, of course now you’re expected to personalize your resume for each job. Maybe things aren’t better after all.

For creative spellers like me, we have spell checker, and even autocorrect which changes common typo to what they should have been. Or more specifically what it thinks they should have been. I’ve discovered that the iPad autocorrect has a sick sense of humor. There are dozens of websites dedicated to autocorrect failures. Autocorrect is a good reason to reread what you typed.

Now days I can run through my document looking for things with either a red or green squiggly underline to see if they need to be fixed. It is a great time saver all too often I’ve put in the wrong verb tense or wrong word. Of course, as a creative speller, Spellchecker all too often just gives up on me and has no idea what I met to type. Leaving me either no suggestions or nothing close to what I want. All too often I fall back on the thesaurus entering in a meaning I can spell then hopping to find the word I wanted.

My dog Tristan is a Bichon Frise. The spell checker in word wants to change it to Bacon Fries, which are good by the way, but they aren’t my dog. True he would love them as much as I would but if I started telling everyone his breed was a Bacon Fries, they would look at me like I was insane. So much for spell checker.

As a writer I make up names all the time. Spell checker marks all these wrong so did I make a typo or did I get it right? One easy option is to “right click” on what I want the spelling to be and select “add to dictionary” this adds my made up word to my custom dictionary. However, now it’s always there even if I don’t want it. I use Microsoft Word which allows for the creation of custom dictionaries. I create a custom dictionary for each world or book. In word click on the flag in the upper left corner. Next at the bottom of the drop down menu click the “Word Options” button. In the new window click “proofing” on the left then the “Custom Dictionary” button. Now on the right click the “New” button  DON’T change the location Microsoft Word needs it to be there but give it a name that makes sense i.e. the book name. Then click OK. Now you have created the new dictionary which really is nothing more than a list of words. Sadly I can’t just start “right clicking” to add words to my new dictionary. I need to manually add them. The way to do this is to make sure my new dictionary is selected then on the right click “Edit Word List” top right. This will bring up a new window where I can type in each word clicking “add” to add the word to the list, I can also delete any mistakes or words I decide to change latter. I can even go in and change the words saved in the “Custom” dictionary Word uses by default. Once you’ve added the words you want click “OK” to close this window. Don’t worry you can always come back and add new words latter if needed. Now you are back to the list of dictionaries before leaving this page notice the check box to the left of each dictionary. This allows the dictionaries to be on or off as needed. For instance, when working on a book in the Kavilion series I turn on the “Kavilion” custom dictionary when I’m done I turn it off. Finally click on “OK” to close out of each window and save the changes you have made. That’s it nice and easy I have just removed all the red squiggles from under words I meant to type that way without needlessly filling up the default custom dictionary. I personally keep a excel spread sheet of names for each book. It allows me to keep the spelling and add a brief description so I don’t get confused on who’s who. I can then send this to my editor so they have a list of all the names.

Now with that done you can go back throw your document looking for all the squiggles fixing them as you go. DON’T make the mistake of thinking you’re done. Once you’ve fixed the obvious errors go back and look for the hidden ones. Mistakes not caught by spell checker or the grammar checker. Don’t just silently read through it in your mind read it aloud you will be surprised how much more you catch when you take the time to read it aloud. Do I catch every mistake? No of course not that’s why I need an editor badly.

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David Farland’s Kick in the Pants

Today I receiver the latest of David Farland’s writing tips where he talks about writing to the seven senses. He starts out by saying “I was judging a contest this morning and found a story that I really wanted to love. Unfortunately, the author didn’t transport me into the tale. He didn’t use smell, taste, sight, touch, or sound enough. That’s too bad, because the character and conflict were fascinating”.

In the next paragraph he adds this advice from a dear old friend “Dean Wesley Smith, teaches authors that they should reference each of the senses at least every 500 words—or every two pages. I think that’s wise counsel for beginning writers. Doing it might seem mechanical, but if you take it up as an exercise, it will quickly teach you to make sure to ground your story in imagery”.

When I was in school I only learned about the five sense sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. David goes on to add two more kinetic or motion and thought or emotion.

As I read through this email I couldn’t help but think of the writing I did yesterday in one of my books and what I could do to include the seven senses in my story. I need to do a complete write not that it was really bad but there was more tell and less show then there should have been. One of my Characters is a young Sylva Ranger. I talk about what they are; I need to rewrite this with his thoughts and feelings about having become part of this élite group. After all at the start of the story no one knows what Sylvan Rangers are some might realize that Sylvans are a type of elf often called wood elves and rangers are warriors that specialize in caring for nature. Therefore, they might assume that sylvan Rangers are wood elf warriors that care for the forests. Though many readers might remain clueless as to what they are and all will fall short of who they really are.

In my world elves are divided into six tribes High (Original), Gray, Sylvan (wood), Desert, Aquatic, and Arctic. One member from each tribe is called to represent “Lord” the tribe to the Elven Council. Each tribe has a small security force the best of the best that protects their interest and to a lesser extend provides security for their selected “Lord” Each is based in Mount Corellon where the Elven Council meets The Sylvan Rangers report to the Sylvan Lord and are warriors with some magical ability relating to nature and the forest. These abilities are different from Ranger to ranger but might include the ability to talk with animals or plants, the ability to control the weather, the ability to make a plant grow, to heal the sick, or purify food and water. There are many Sylvan elves that are rangers but only the best are selected to become Sylvan Rangers. They are selected in their youth based on the skill and potential they show. Few are selected and those who are must work hard to improve not only their fighting skills but also to discover and develop their special skills.

I need to change the start to include this young Ranger thinking about his selection to the Sylvan Rangers, what he went through and his thought of pride for being selected. Then add in the thoughts and other senses as they first see the smoke rising above the forest in the distance then as they arrive to find the burned out encampment and slaughter of a group of their fellow Sylvan Elves.

I’m not going to give away the story line but there is a lot of work to bring these few short pages up to where they need to be so the reader can see and feel through the eyes of this young elf what he feels and sees. Something new for me to learn and experiment with.

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Filed under Books, Editing, Elves, Ideas, Life, Thoughts