How Using Compare in Microsoft Word Can Save Your Manuscript (and Sanity)

Microsoft Word LogoHas this ever happened to you? You’re about a hundred pages deep into editing your manuscript, changing a phrase here and adding a scene there – and then you run across a paragraph that you’re sure you deleted in the last go-round. And then you realize why it’s still there: you’re not working in the most recent version of your file.

You might think your options are limited at this point to: a) pulling up the correct file, setting it side-by-side with the file you’re presently working in, and spending a couple of hours manually transferring all of today’s edits into the right file; b) chucking the computer out of the nearest window, or c) sobbing. But you have another, much more appealing option: you can use Microsoft Word’s Compare function. Continue reading “How Using Compare in Microsoft Word Can Save Your Manuscript (and Sanity)”

How to Write a Clean First Draft

Puppy BathI had to open my big mouth, didn’t I?

A few weeks back, in the response to a comment on one of my posts here at IU, I remarked that I save a lot of time in the editing phase by writing “really clean first drafts.” Of course, somebody had to go and ask me how I do it.

That meant I had to deconstruct how I do what I do. First, I found a calm, quiet place, and sat there with a meditation pillow and a candle, and communed with my muse for a while. Then I had a glass of wine. Okay, maybe I had more than one glass of wine. Anyway, I came away from it all with the conclusion that it’s a whole host of things. Here, as best as I can, is my prescription for writing a clean first draft. Continue reading “How to Write a Clean First Draft”

How to Make a Word Template

Last week, I showed you how to make Styles work for you in Microsoft Word. But wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could just open a new document and have your styles already set up for you?

Sure, you can open an old document with the formatting you want to use, delete the original content, and add your new stuff – but then you need to remember to hit “save as” instead of “save” or you’ll lose your original work. (Not that I’ve ever done that.) It would be safer to start with a properly-formatted blank document, wouldn’t it?Of course, it would. Continue reading “How to Make a Word Template”

Stylin’ in Microsoft Word

I know, I know, it’s frightening – the “Styles” drop-down menu in Word 97/2003, and/or the string of needlessly colorful Styles on the ribbon in Word 2007/2010. But there’s no need to avert your eyes. Believe it or not, not only can you tame the scary Styles beast, but you can make a Style of your very own. And it will help you!

Let’s say you’d like for your first drafts to incorporate most of Mr. Coker’s whiz-bang paragraph formatting right off the bat, because you’re sick and tired of using the Nuclear Option to get your books through the Meatgrinder. You can create a Style that does that! Here’s how: Continue reading “Stylin’ in Microsoft Word”