Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why Twitter Is Your Friend

Or, Why Twitter Friends Are Amazing.

I'm finally down to minor tweaks to my MS for His Good Opinion. My crit partners have the last few chapters now, and my beta readers are halfway through. Meanwhile, I'm going through, meticulously analyzing every word and style choice I've made--because of course, I want the copyeditor to receive as clean a draft as possible.

One thing I noticed recently was an over-use of italics. I use italics to indicate internal dialogue, and that will remain. However, Jane used italics frequently to indicate emphasis. While I have decided against removing every exclamation point from her dialogue, I do believe I can rid myself of most of the italics without raising a fuss.

However, the thought of scrolling through the document looking for italics made my eyes cross--and this is where Twitter comes in. Over a year ago, author Gary Corby wrote an amazingly detailed and helpful blog post on using Word's search function. You can make it do things I'd never even dreamed of!

I follow Gary on Twitter, so who else would I turn to with my question? I sent him a quick @ reply, and before the day was over, I got this answer:

Yes! In search dialog, click More--Format--Font--Italic. RT @Nancy_Kelley: Gary, is there a way to search Word for all italicized text?

Bingo!! Now I can let my computer do the eye-crossing work for me, rather than staring at the screen for hours on end.

Maybe you don't need to know everything there is to know about the find and replace feature in Word (though that is very helpful). However, in your writing you will come across things that stump you. Twitter puts you in touch with people from dozens of backgrounds who know more collectively than you could ever hope to learn in your lifetime. It's the Hive Mind, and it's one of the greatest things about Twitter.

Have you been assimilated into the Collective? What kinds of questions has Twitter or the blogosphere answered for you?

PS: If you like mysteries and Ancient Greece, I highly recommend Gary's novel, The Pericles Commission.  It's funny, the characters are well-drawn, and his attention to detail makes historical research look absolutely effortless.