Using writing tools

I used to feel that using writing tools in our word-processing applications was like cheating. If, in the throes of creative frenzy I could not summon to mind the best, most apposite word, then I had no right to go looking for it.

On mature reflection, and knowing how much else there is to do in an average day, I now accept that’s a bit like saying we should refrain from using Caps Lock, or that we have no right to indent, tabulate or use double spacing.

There are two writers’ tools that I use a lot, for reasons that I hope will become obvious. Well, I sincerely hope they will.

  • ‘Find’

The ‘Find’ function, which is located at the extreme right hand side of ‘home’ on my WP panel, is a most useful tool, helping us to eliminate unconscious repetition of repetitious and pointless words that we are not even aware of typing. I write a lot of dialogue; well, I usually do, and people use lots of pauses in speech, so we feel it is only right and realistic to mimic that. Well, up to a point.

In these last two paragraphs, the word will appears twice in the same line. And in this post, the word well appears five times. Using the ‘Find’ function, we can locate and remedy this with a bit of judicious culling and replacement with more interesting words.

All sorts of words can be culled, especially those that appear in speech. Some of my favourites, are sometimes, always, never, because, of course, well, it, perhaps, so, maybe, occasionally, in fact, of course…. I especially like to find more interesting words for what it might be and I do my best to eradicate the passive tense.

In the process of editing and refining, we all collect and recognise our own favourite bugbears. Rather than despair, I take this as a good sign that we are becoming more alight to the dangers of complacency. Readers expect entertainment, and varied vocab is part of that.

The thesaurus is useful too, helping us to find fresh and perhaps more interesting ways of saying the same thing – it helps to get off the beaten track, occasionally, and, without being prolix, deploy words we don’t often encounter, perambulating easily around the niceties of the written word.




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