Seeing as it’s the season of giving, I thought it’d be fun to share a couple of techniques that I’ve found really handy when editing and proof reading my fiction. Particularly long fiction like novels.
This first one is the only way I’ve found of effectively proof reading my own work, as once I’m in ‘reading mode’ my brain tends to correct the text as it goes!
The method involves using MS Word and Excel, or software with similar functionality. All the functions mentioned below are easy use, but if they’re new to you then a quick google will provide instructions.
So first get your text into a Word document. If it’s a long novel you might like to split it into two documents. Obviously if your novel is already in Word, take a copy first.
Then, select all the text.
Note: Depending on the length of your story it will take Word and Excel a while to complete each step, so be patient!
Next you split up your text into a table so that each sentence (roughly) is one row in the table by using Convert Text to Table, selecting one column and Separate Text At: Other using full-stops.
The table should already be selected, but if not select the whole thing. Copy.
In Excel you then paste in the table using Match Destination formatting. (We switch to excel here because it is better at handling big tables.)
Then use Sort to sort it alphabetically. You’re now ready to start proof reading!
Generally I do this with my draft open in Word / Scrivener or wherever I’m working on it. When I find an error in the Excel file, I copy the text and paste it into the Find function in Word/ Scrivener so I can jump right to it and correct it.
Finally, mark off the rows in Excel as you go.
If this sounds like a lot of work, then keep in mind that you only need to do it once! Surprisingly I get through the draft faster this way, which also makes me happy.