The shoes didn't fit. It was an omen.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to Prepare Your MS for a Critique with Word 2010 and "How To" Books for Editing Yourself

Last week, I had this beautifully written. Some how cyber-space gobbled it up. So I've re-done it.

To date, I still can't seem to either get connected to Google Chrome with any kind of ease or stay that way once I do. So once again, I'm posting this blog via my iPhone with the Blogger App.

In this post, I wanted to share on how to prepare your MS for others to critique. 

1: Make sure you're not giving your critters your first draft. Like Hemingway said, "The first draft is shit." Make sure you're sending something you've thoughtfully edited. 

A few years back, I recall someone being asked to leave my live critique group because they never, ever turned in a clean-as-possible-draft. The leader felt that one draft sucked up too much of our time. At that time there were 7 of us times 20 pages per person.

2: Do a Find for filter, ly, and passive words. Hunt for was, saw, feel, heard, had, that, just, and then. If your character can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel, you can describe it. 

If you don't know how to do a Find, I'll be glad to show you from Word 2010.

Go to your Home Bar and click on Find.

Go to the left of your screen. Type in whatever word you're going to look for like was in the Navigation blank. 

This will automatically highlight what you're looking for. It should look like this:

3: Next, double space and number your lines. This helps whoever is critiquing you to stay on track if for some reason they can't read your chapter or draft in one sitting.

Also, it helps you to find where you need to make the changes where suggested.

Here's how to double space and add line numbering to your MS with Word 2010:

For double spacing, go to your Home Bar and click Paragraph.

After, a box will pop up. Make sure you have Indents and Spacing. In Alignment pick Left.

Then, go to Special. Pick First Line. Under Special, pick 0.5.

Go to Line Spacing and pick Doiuble. Make sure you click Okay.

One you've finished making your double spaces, you'll need to number your lines. 

Click on Page Layout.

Then, click on Line Numbers.

After you do that, click on Continuous.

If you need some extra help with self-edits, there are a plethora of 'how to' books out there. Here are my three favorites:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King

The Writer's Little Helper, by James V. Smith, Jr.

Write in Style, by Bobbi Christmas

Once you get your MS back from your critters you'll need to organize how you will handle those suggestions. Author Donna K. Weaver wrote a fabulous post on how to do it. CLICK THE LINK

I hope everyone has a lovely Monday and week. I've been on The Salon schedule for 8 days straight now.

If anyone has any other suggestions on preparing your MS for critiques, feel free to give your tips.

So this concludes my Monday post.  See you around the blogosphere and on Friday when I Celebrate the Small Things.

Hugs and chocolate,


  1. I use an ancient version of Word (because I am stupidly stubborn and refuse to use anything else until there's absolutely no other choice). I wonder if this formatting will work for me.

    I never considered the line numbering thing before.

    1. If you have any Word program you can still go to Page Layout to find it.

  2. This is good advice for newbies, Shelly.

    I belong to a critique group that's fun but limited in helpfulness. We generally don't get each other's material until the night before the meeting--if even then. We read aloud to each other. I don't feel an efficient critique can be done this way, but....

    1. My old group was very detailed. Usually, line by line. I really miss them.

  3. Twenty pages for seven people? That'll be a long critique session.

    1. We took the pages home and worked on them. Every Monday, each person would give a verbal critique from the notes we took. This would take us 2 hours.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions. They were very helpful.

  5. Great job, Shelly! Glad you could post this. I like the "find" option--I call it "find & destroy". I've never seen this numbering option before. But then, I have Open Office, so it would be different for me. I'll see if I can figure it out sometime.
    Hope your day was good! I'm up to Tuesday and we've got snow coming in AGAIN tonight!

    1. Florida has blue skies and sunshine with a little nip in the air. I'm good.

  6. Wow! That's super helpful. Thanks, Shelly!

  7. Thanks for all those how to pictures! I didn't know how to number each line, now I do! :)

  8. Find and Replace is a Godsend.

  9. Thanks for all of the helpful tips and photos, Shelly! This will definitely come in handy.



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