Tag Archives: manuscript

Convert Words to Pages

convertWhile compiling a printed book through Createspace, I found this neat site, Convert Words to Pages, that will count pages from the word count.

You can also determine pages with the font used, line spacing, and font size. Its very helpful on figuring out the size of your novel from what you’ve written.

You can also check the speech to Minutes calculator, connected with the site.

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So many stories…so little time


I’m not sure if other writers have this problem but this past week, I’ve had some issues with figuring out which story to write.

It reminds me of how you throw more than one ball to a dog, and it doesn’t catch any of them. Yeah, kind of like that.

Organizing is helping, but I’m a typical Libra who waffles between decisions trying to find the best choices. Should I go with the short story, the non-fiction, or should I finish the stuff I already started?

I suppose I should let the Creative Muse decide for me; this way, I’ll be bursting with words. Or one would hope. She often abandons me without warning.

So far I organize with the following tips;

- I setup each novel with its own folder. All notes, character biographies, and plot outlines get stuffed in there.

- Any file I want to work on, I add the ! (exclamation point) in front of the word. For instance, !ThisBook. Why? Because it puts this at the top of the alphabetized list.

- I don’t always write from the beginning. When I have issues where I’m not entirely sure where the story beings, I just start writing. Eventually, the plot will reveal where the story starts and where it will end.

What are your tips? Post in comments.


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Top 10 things you should know about word processors

IMG_1466Here are some of the most important things you need to know about word processors, as a writer;

1. Backup. MS Word and Open Office (and I’m sure other programs) offer a setting to back up your work. I highly recommend turning this feature ‘on’. You can set for certain times, such as every 5 minutes. This enables writers to automatically backup while they work.

Backup in MS Word (recent versions). You may need to look up your specific version of MS Word

How to create backup copy in Open office

2. Automatic saves. I know the word processors also provide the feature of automatically creating saves in timely increment. I think the default setting for MS Word is 10 minutes, but as a fast typer, I can lose quite a lot in 10 minutes. I changed it to every 5 minutes. This saves your work automatically while you work.

Autosave in MS Word

Autosave in Open office

3. Templates. Word processors offer tons of templates from the manufacturers but often times you can find users upload these to share on the Web. I’m including some links to writer-related templates; (Check your program version)

Book Manuscript and short story templates for MS Word.

Book manuscript template for Open Office

4. Find and replace feature. The find/replace feature works in nearly all word processing. You can find and replace just one event, or find all words and change as you desire. I’ve also used this feature, to find spacing or even symbols in the manuscript.

- Click Ctrl+F which will open a box to type in the word you wish to find.

Find and replace in MS Word

Find and replace in Open Office

5. Hotkeys or Keyboard shortcuts. I use these a lot when I type because it takes time to reach for the mouse to click and drag things. With hotkeys, you find the same commands do the same thing, and your hands stay on the keyboard. You can save, print, cut/copy/paste, highlight, insert auto text, change formatting, and so much more.

Hotkeys for MS Word

Hotkeys for Open office

6. You can change default settings for font and file format. Some writers find their word processor has the Ariel font as their default. Its better to change this to Times New Roman or Courier. Even Georgia and Bookman works pretty well. And why? Its to help make reading easier for the reader (or editor/agent).

The font size should also be 12 point.

How to change default font in MS Word

How to change font in Open Office

You should also think about the default save format of your document. Most settings for writers include RTF (rich text format) or DOC (MS Word), or TXT (text). Avoid using the default DOCX format.

Change other formatting settings in MS Word

7. Header and Footers. These are essential when formatting for submission. Each page should  include your last name, title, and page number. I find for my writer’s group, we also ask for email address so feedback can be sent to the author.

Headers in MS Word

Headers in Open office

8. Macros. Macros are programmable actions the program will do by assigned keys. For instance, in my journal document in MS Word, I was sick of adding the date, day of the week, and ‘goals’. I created a Macro which adds all of this with the simple Ctrl+PageUP key combo. Very handy.

Macros in MS Word, Macro for Windows XP

Macros for books

Macros in Open Office

9. Dictionary and Thesaurus. Did you know MS Word and Open Office include a built in dictionary and thesaurus? You can even edit words to include character names, settings, or odd words you’ve made up for your story. The thesaurus also helps the writer to find words that mean the same, if you’re at a loss for the right word.

How to remove a word in MS Word dictionary

Custom dictionaries for MS Word

How to use MS Thesaurus

Open office dictionaries- information about Openoffice dictionaries, how to install new ones, add thesaurus and more.

10. Spellcheck and grammar checking. I must preface this feature with a warning that programs are STUPID, they only do what they are programmed to do, and cannot use words in context. That being said, these features should not be the final method used in checking your writing.  The grammar also includes settings for formal and informal styles. For instance, you can choose the program to check for words like contractions (you’re vs you are). In some styles of writing, this is important.

Check spelling and grammar in Office

Top 10 tips for mastering MS Word’s spell check feature

Choose how spell check and grammar check work in MS Word

Spellcheck for Open office

I don’t think Open office has a grammar checker but you can find some online

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The road to publishing

Source: katehart.net via Lydia on Pinterest


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The good ‘ol days of typewriters

I’m old, or rather, old enough to remember the days before computers. For you younger writers out there, I felt you might enjoy insight in the good old days of typewriters, where we used these archaic machines to write.

jammedI remember when I typed too fast, the keys would literally jam up in the machine. You have to manually separate them. I understand, the reason the keyboard is laid out with the QWERTY style is due to the fact they wanted people to slow down to accommodate this jamming issue.

I remember any mistakes required the liquid paper that came in a tiny bottle where you dabbed over the mistake, let it dry a bit, and typed over it. The stench was sometimes overpowering, and my fellow high schoolers kept telling me it could make me high. I don’t know about that. I hated the smell, regardless.

The noise of a old fashioned typewriter is distinct. When in a room full of typist, it could almost be deafening.  Check out this video of a college kid who brought a typewriter to his class. Hilarious. (video).

Formatting was all done manually. You set the machine to indent, and clicked the indent key each time you started a new paragraph. Fortunately, you could set margins for the page, but header and footers had to be done manually for each page.

No copies. Well, this isn’t entirely true. If you typed with carbon paper, you could make a second copy but otherwise, each story typed was an original. If lost, ripped up, torn, eaten by the family dog, burn up in a fire, or whatever fate befell your manuscript…tough luck.

Ink came in ribbons. You often realized you needed to replace the ribbon when words faded. Hopefully, you’d know enough about your typewriter how to put one of those in correctly.

Fingers often ached. With the typewriters, you had to have a certain strength to your fingers to slam it hard enough so the key forced the ‘hammer’ of the letter to smack against the ribbon to punch to the paper in order to make a dark enough letter. If you didn’t hammer hard enough, the letter was faded.  After typing class, my hands often ached afterward.

So bask in the joy of word processing (or even handwriting) because typewriters soon faded to obscurity and you rarely see them now. For me, I’m thankful. My fingers are also thankful.

Writer’s prompt: Use the photo below for your prompt to answer such questions as to why she’s walking without shoes along the road. What story leads us to this point?


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Writer Wednesday: The Book Designer


The Book Designer is an interesting web sites that offers a number of blog posts on all things design for books. This includes ebooks as well printed books, from the cover to even the interior.

Check out the “10 Quick Tips To Get Your Manuscript Ready For Publication”.

Their Articles page includes a massive amount of links for all sorts of publishing and design information.

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paperraterNothing takes the place of actual feedback on your writing. You should know that feedback generally involves three stages from the initial impression of the manuscript, to plot, theme, and other elements, to the final stage of grammar and punctuation.

This is where I like Paperrater.com. Don’t get me wrong- no program really offers 100% accuracy in this area. Why? Mainly because it doesn’t recognize that sometimes, its ok to break the writing rules. Sometimes, its okay to use passive voice, or slang, or informal language.

As always “Know the writer’s rules to understand when you can break them”.

That being said, the site offers a nice FREE service where you can cut and paste large section of writing and have the service rate it. You get a handy report that breaks it all down as well.

I’ve looked at a site called grammarly.com as well (which seems to be down right now), but I find their free version limits the words you can have checked, and then you find fees start to accrue.

Post in comments your thoughts on automatic, robot-driven paper checkers, or your own experiences with this type of service.


Filed under Editing, Handy Links and Resources, Links, Review, Writer

Writer’s Digest- a must have, in my opinion

I just recently received my issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. If you consider subscribign or getting books on writing, I feel this is a ‘must-have’ for would-be authors.

Every single issue offers tons of information on the elements of writing; from the creative part of characters, plot, dialog, and theme, to publishing and marketing your work once you’re done. You get the ‘in scoop’ from agents, authors, and publishing companies.


The Writer’s Digest web site provides tons of information, including workshops, books, and community for writers.

The magazine, by the way, is on sale at $19.95 for the year.


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