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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Making Changes--by Making MS Word Work for You

I love writing; I loathe rewriting. It's not the rewriting as much as keeping track of changes that bothers me. I collect wonderful and helpful critiques from other writers, and that's when my perfectionistic nature kicks in. I have to make sure I review every change to decide if it's valid/it's appropriate for my story or not. My motto is "no crit left behind!" Unfortunately, the first time I received changes to one of my stories, I went about it all wrong. I now have a ton of changes to make to that story, and while I like the story, the changes sit to the wayside for now.

When I submitted a second story for critiquing, I developed a better method. I write "better" and not "best" because I'm sure someone out there probably has a better method, but I share my method here, with the hopes that it helps at least one other person.

The Heidi Method

I label a story with chapter numbers, but when I submit the story for critiques, sometimes I submit bits and pieces of chapters at a time, for example, the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3. I now label files as parts, that is, Part 1, Part 2, and so on. This helps me keep track of my crits in chronological order.

Next, I create a master folder on my computer titled "Name of Story." Then, within that folder, I create subfolders, such as "Part 1 Crits," "Part 2 crits," etc. I review critiques as I receive them (in case some of them might affect future chapters), but I wait and collect a few chapters worth of crits before saving them out to the corresponding subfolders (Part 1, Part 2, etc.).

Let's suppose I have four crits for Part 5. I open MS Word and from the "Review" tab option in the MS Word 2007 "ribbon," I choose the "combine option" from the "compare tab" and select the first two crits I want to combine. I combine them and save them as "Part 5, 1." Next, I select the next two crits for a particular chapter and repeat the above operation, naming the new file, "Part 5, 2." Then I combine "Part 5, 1" and "Part 5, 2", usually naming them something like "Part 5, final revisions." I reject changes, accept changes, and make any revisions directly to this file and save it. Instead of reviewing four individual files, I've now reviewed four sets of changes at once.

I then open my master file of my story and replace the original Part 5 text with the text from Part 5, final revisions.

Do the same for each part of your story. Rinse and repeat. Any questions, please feel free to post a comment. I'll try to answer them as best as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting process. it's always good to see how other people do things ...


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