My WIP’s Fourth Revision
I’d meant to write about editing as I went, but I got so caught up in what I was doing that I didn’t have much energy for this. But, I’m finished with this round of editing so I will get caught up.
I was going to plunge into what I did, and I even started a post, then realized I’d spent a lot of time describing a couple of tools. So I decided to just write about them this time. Maybe next time I will describe what techniques I used.
What Tools Did I Use?
The very best purchase I’ve made as a serious writer is Scrivener, a powerful writing tool. I can’t say enough about it, but I’m not running a Scrivener commercial, so I will limit my remarks to a pretty handy feature, one which all word processors have…the search bar.
Over there on the left is a screen shot of Scrivener. In the upper right is the search bar. I have lots of options on what I search for. Usually I’m interested in whole words, or sometimes phrases. Once I enter something, Scrivener lists every scene with a hit. And it highlights every hit in the scene. And the great thing is that they stay highlighted until I clear the search bar.
No doubt you’ve guessed where this is going. If I have a list of words, I can just type them into the search bar and see where they fall.
But…how to we find words to plug into our search bar? One way to do it is to use the Scrivener word count function. It’s easy to do and super fast. But it has a couple of drawbacks. First, I can only see about a dozen words at any one time. And second, I can’t export the list anywhere. So, if I’m interested in all 2,300 words in my scene, of which I have 823 different words, I’m not about to do a zillion screen shots, let along type them out.
But…I have an ancient copy of Excel, and it uses macros.
So, what if I did found something which would do all this for me, and I could have a list I could sort on?
I know all about the dangers of Excel Macros and how they were one of the first ways bad guys slipped viruses in on unsuspecting people. But I found one which works well enough, but I don’t remember where I found it or what it’s called. And I wish I could make it do a few extra things but I’m not smart enough to teach it new tricks. Too bad for me.
The the left are two screen shots show what it does. I copy and paste my scene into the spreadsheet. I learned not to have any extra lines between paragraphs because it stops. I also learned that, while it ignores commas and periods, it doesn’t do that for quotes, em-dashes or ellipses. So I copy my scene out of Scrivener, into another ancient copy of Word, and use the find and replace feature to get rid of those things. It’s also a good idea to do a spell check because the macro doesn’t guess that the and hte are the same word.
Then I copy the cleaned up scene and paste it into the first sheet in Excel. Just like magic I get a paragraph on each line. Then I hit the button. And, presto, I get the scene’s word count on a new sheet it opens. Every word is listed and how many times it shows up. So, if I copy that new table over, I can sort on it, search on it, and do whatever I want with it.
Now comes the next part…finding the words I care about. I created IF THEN ELSE things in columns off to the right, searching for a particular word. And then I copied the same test down about 2,000 rows so I would never stop before I got to the end of s scene.
In my first shot, I concentrated on the verb, BE and made separate columns for it. That was less than ten, so it wasn’t very hard. But that turned into a slippery slope, and pretty soon I was setting up new pages to count glue words (the 300 most commonly used words in English), and nearly went blind.
But, with this tool I can count words, and figure out what I want to put into Scrivener’s search bar.
Next time I will start talking about how I put those tests to work.