Editing the Manuscript with the MS Word Find Tool

I did a pre-edit on my mystery novella, Sunshine Boulevard, last month. Karen McGrath, Muse It Up Publishing editor, sent a sheet full of words that need to be weeded out of the ms to avoid passive voice. Some of the 24 words to purge are just, that, had, but, and then, about, was, as, very were, has been, and so on.

I pulled up the Sunshine Boulevard file and  smugly clicked on the Edit tag in MS Word 2003 and scrolled to Find. Knowing that I would not be using the villainous word, just,  in my ms, I clicked on Find and typed in” just”. Lo and behold, there was a ton of them! Just imagine. I guess I just didn’t realize just  how much I unconsciously slipped it in. Just how crazy is that!

The Find feature is a life-saver for writers. If you discover you have misspelled a word throughout your manuscript or if you decide to change a character’s name from Sally to Martha, the Find tool will find it for you. If you want to replace it, just type in Sally then type in Martha for the replacement. Like magic the entire piece will be cleaned up for you. You may want to play with it a bit by using a small document instead of an entire novel’s manuscript at first.

I sent off the edited masterpiece shaking my head at what was an eye-opening experience for me. This exercise certainly helped point out my over-used words and allowed me to write stronger sentences. Now I can only imagine how much tighter and more focused my story will be after an editor looks it over. Looking forward to that!

2 responses to this post.

  1. The word ‘just’ is insidious. It just sneaks in everywhere. 🙂 The find and replace is awesome. Just (see?) make sure you match the whole word or you will end up with the new word in places you didn’t intend and a mess. Speaking from experience, of course. I think a Ted became a Dave and then words like ‘wasted’ became ‘wasDave’.

    Good luck with the book! Can’t wait to see the final product.


    • You are so right. I should have mentioned that. I discovered when weeding out the word some, the Find tool highlighted something and someone. So I should add to read through before you hit replace or delete a word if it could be found in another word e.g. very is also in every and everyone…Good advice, Joselyn. Thanks.


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