Wednesday, July 10, 2013

SmartEdit Redux

Last August I posted this blog about SmartEdit. I had some issues with the software but now, having used it on two more books, I find it very helpful. I have updated that blog with my experience reviewing and analyzing my latest novel.

I am pushing through the editing of Wars Amongst Lovers and even though I have my own specific system of checks and balances I wanted to try something new. Through one of the LinkedIn groups someone suggested that SmartEdit was a great tool to help review and check your work. While I found it interesting it falls well short of what I need or what most writer/editors could use profitably. It is very time consuming.

(I have rethought that last comment and to the contrary, now that I’ve used it a lot, I find it very helpful. I think I misunderstood the real use of the product, it is not a creative software like WORD or PAGES, it’s a review and analysis software. Use the lists of words, phrases, and other input to help clean up overused phrasing and especially adverbs. How many times did I use the word 'only'? To my embarrassment, too many. Easy to find and easy to fix with SmartEdit.)

After you load your manuscript into the platform (save Manuscript as an .rtf file and use that version to load) it does a fairly good job of selecting out phrases, words, and adverbs. Then, in a type face too small to easily read (that’s still true), you can select and replace/fix as needed. WARNING: the work is not saved and from what I can decipher can’t be saved except by selecting all the text and repasting in a new Word file. Such bother. Additionally, it does display this search in the order the book is written – selections are not chronological or even within the same parts of the manuscript, it does not highlight all the elements you are searching, or offer any replacements. I see great potential but it is a long way from being user friendly. It’s worth a look but BEWARE and don’t put your only copy of the manuscript in the thing – you may want to kill if there is a power outage.

(Much of the above is still true, but I am now using the results of the analysis differently. With your manuscript open (use a copy) you can “search/find” words and phrases in the MS and make the changes in the copy. Forget making the changes in the SmartEdit version, it makes reviewing and changes the usual adverbs so much easier. All in all it’s a great editing aid.)

The Challenges of Self-Editing
I am absolutely sure there are gremlins in the Microsoft Word software. I can spend days going through the manuscript, correcting, searching, revising, changing, and even deleting. But when I come back to the MS with fresh eyes, I find even more. The mind is a cruel mistress; it WILL insert missing words as you read (silently or even out loud) and not mention it to anyone. When you go back, pesky conjunctions have fled the scene, s’s and ed’s have been added or deleted, and I am sure some words mysteriously have left to go on vacation. That is why when you are done find a great copy editor. They are worth the money (and Dennis, don’t get any ideas about raising your rates – see Dennis DeRose above) and expertise.

The new book is essentially done; I have a few things on hold (like final professional editing) while I wait for some hopeful meetings with agents later this month. Fingers crossed.

More Later . . . . .

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