You Can Take My (MS) Word for It

We promise that we really are going to get around to finishing our series on the best characters in fantasy literature. But our best friend just came to visit, and of course that means that we spent basically no time at all working on our writing projects over the past week. And my birthday is coming up next week, so perhaps soon we’ll have more time on our hands.

Meanwhile, I’ve been playing around with the Office for Mac 2016 preview. You can install it alongside Office 2011, and it’s been fun seeing what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. I don’t use my Macbook Air quite so much anymore, particularly on vacation, when I don’t need to spend quite so much time outside the house.

I hear that "Lorum Ipsum" is quite a guy.

I hear that “Lorem Ipsum” is quite a guy.

I love the navigation pane there on the left. I just figured out how to make that show up in Office for Mac 2011; it’s a lot easier to use in the Windows version. But it’s an enormous time-saver when you’re looking through a 200 or 300 page Word document for that one certain time you used that one particular word. I can’t imagine what I’d do without that feature now.

Some people prefer other programs for writing, and more power to them. But personally I’ve always gotten along fine with MS Word. Here’s how I usually do it. (These screenshots are from my HP EliteBook, which is where I do most of my writing now.)

Every book I write has at least three files: one for the outline, one for the characters, and one for the text of the novel itself.

Not shown: blank space where the novel should be.

Not shown: blank space where the novel should be.

When I’m actually writing, I always have the text file open on one side of the screen, and the outline open on the other side. That way I can keep looking back and forth, checking to see that I’m not leaving something out, and keeping an eye on what’s coming up next.

Huh.  I thought she was taller than that.

Huh. I thought she was taller than that.

I keep the characters file open in the background, so I can switch to it whenever I need to check on the spelling of a character’s name, or remind myself where someone is from or how tall she might be. Other times, I have other files open, too, like our other books, if they have information that is important to the new story. We also have files for each of the various countries in our ‘verse. For Red Sand Girl, I kept open the file for the country where it takes place, so I could check the spelling of their various gods and goddesses and make sure I had the names right for their units of money.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to recently. We’ll be back soon with more about fantasy characters we like.

J

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