If you think there's no place for macros in fiction editing, think again. My friend Paul Beverley has collated a core group of macros that will have any fiction line editor, copyeditor or proofreader drooling! Self-publishing authors will love them too!
I don't use all of these (every editor has their preferences) but some of them are staples and save me oodles of time!
Some of the macros apply when you’re looking at the whole text of a novel, while others are selective ... for use while you’re editing line by line. Bear in mind that they're designed to be used with MS Word files.
Macros that work with the whole text
These macros are ideal near the beginning of the edit, when you’ve put together the whole book in one single file, and you want to look for inconsistencies.
ProperNounAlyse searches the novel for any words that look like proper nouns; it counts their frequency, and then tries to locate, by using a variety of tests, and pairs of names that might possibly be alternative spellings or misspellings, e.g. Jayne/Jane, Beverley/Beverly, Neiman/Nieman, Grosman/Grosmann etc.
FullNameAlyse is similar to ProperNounAlyse, but it searches for multi-part names, Fred Smith, Burt Fry, etc.
ChronologyChecker is aimed at tracing the chronology of a novel. It extracts, into a separate file, all the paragraphs containing appropriate chronology-type words: Monday, Wednesday, Fri, Sat, April, June, 1958, 2017, etc. This file is then more easily searchable to look at the significance of the text for the chronology.
WordsPhrasesInContext tracks the occurrence of specific names through a novel. You give it a list of names/words/phrases, and it searches for any paragraphs in the novel that contain them. It creates a separate file of those paragraphs, with the searched element highlighted in your choice of colour.
CatchPhrase searches your novel for over-used phrases and counts how many times each phrase occurs.
Macros for when editing line by line
These macros change
he said, you know ...
into he said. You know ...
or he said: you know ...
or he said – you know ...
and so on.
FullPointInDialogue and CommaInDialogue
These two macros change
“Blah, blah.” He said.
into “Blah, blah,” he said.
and vice versa.
This macro looks along the line to find the next proper noun, deletes it and types ‘she’. But if you then type Ctrl-Z, it changes it back to ‘he’.
You give this macro a list of changes that you might want to implement:
When you click in a word, and run the macro, it finds your alternate and replaces it. It also works with phrases and can also provide a menu of alternates:
To access the macro scripts, download Paul's book.
Louise Harnby is a fiction copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in helping self-publishing writers prepare their novels for market.
She is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors, and runs online courses from within the Craft Your Editorial Fingerprint series. She is also an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. Louise loves books, coffee and craft gin, though not always in that order.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader & Copyeditor, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
If you're an author, take a look at Louise’s Writing Library and access her latest self-publishing resources, all of which are free and available instantly.
'Louise uses her expertise to hone a story until it's razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.'
'I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.'
J B Turner
'Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class.'
'What makes her stand out and shine is her ability to immerse herself in your story.'
'A million thanks – your mark-up is perfect, as always.'
All text on The Editing Blog and on the other pages of this website (unless indicated otherwise) is in copyright © 2011–20 Louise Harnby.