Recently on LitWorldInterviews.Com, my book review, author interview, and writing/publishing advice site consisting of a dozen team members, all with experience and/or passion in the field of writing and publishing, author Jo Robinson, the Self-Publishing Guru of LWI, pointed out a tool so many of us miss out on because we don’t think about it. Moreover, most of us already have it FREE.
The article is titled Understand the Tools of your Trade. In the article, Jo discusses how to use Microsoft Word to check for typos and formatting issues. She also mentions Mac and Scrivener (I have Scrivener and used it for NaNoWriMo.) users need to be certain to look at their tools to ensure they are receiving all the benefits available. You should click the article link above and check it out for images of where to find the Proofing tools in Word as well as all of her tips regarding its use. She is the Self-Publishing Guru for a reason.
I do want to point out one issue with using Proofing tools.
- You will have the tools say something is an error, but you will know it is NOT a TRUE error.
I know that sounds strange but what the tool does is one of three things:
- Use your existing sentence structure to determine certain rights and wrongs
- At other times you are writing in an accepted manner that is not accepted in something like a business letter. Writers often write the way people speak, as they should, but you do NOT want your Proofing tools to say that is okay because sometimes you do NOT mean to write that way.
- Proofing will use style to determine proper word usage. I may use don’t or it’s, but Word will not like either. I know they are both used properly. However, I do check the use of ‘it’s’ to make certain I am not misspelling the possessive form, which would be its.
In addition to what Jo offers in her article, I want to mention a few more settings I find useful. I have a bad habit. That habit, for now, is using passive sentences. I’m getting over it, but I’ve admitted my problem and sought help for it. Help I’ve had the whole time.
In Word’s Proofing options, a setting checks for Passive Sentences.
File-Options-Proofing-Then, in the main body of the text box look for the area titled ‘Writing Style’-Click the drop down box and select ‘Grammar & Style’-Click Settings.
A new box has now appeared. There are a great number of boxes to check if you wish. For authors, under the ‘Require’ section, the first one you come to, you need to make a decision about the first option, ‘Comma required before last list item’. Do you want the tool to say this is always to be the way, never to be the way, or don’t check for it at all?
For ‘Punctuation required with quotes’, I selected ‘inside’ because of dialogue. If for some reason, you have an exception, when the tool alerts you, then you may ignore it.
For ‘Spaces required between sentences’, I selected ‘1’. When I first started seriously writing on a computer, I typed the way I learned so many years ago, two spaces between sentences. The problem with that is, printing and computers consider fonts and do the proper spacing for you.
The next two sections are ‘Grammar’ and ‘Style’. You make your decisions here as you wish. However, under ‘Style’ you will find the ‘Passive sentences’ option. Agents and Publishers are not fans of passive writing. They want writing that drives the reader forward.
One great thing I like about this, above and beyond the grammar & style features is the Reading Grade Level of the writing option. You may be surprised to discover the most popular fiction out there, even the top authors, are written for grade levels way below one might expect. Read This Surprising Reading level Analysis Will Change the way You Write by Shane Snow ‘The Content Strategist‘. This article made me feel better about what I was accomplishing with my own writing.
Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.
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