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The rest of this post is mostly reference for me, so I can document what I did this year to clean up my transcription. If it's helpful to you, hooray! But save a copy of your file before following any of this advice. The Word examples were untested at the time I wrote this, but I can refine it if there's interest.
I have already extolled the virtues of having your draft read aloud (see the last bullet point on this post) and I am seriously looking at voice transcription for this year's draft. What both of these miss, though, is subtle issues of punctuation and spacing. Good news, though: your word processor can help you out. These are the things that I get caught up on.
- Double-spacing is out of fashion. This is bad news for those of us who originally learned to type on a typewriter, or who were taught by someone who learned that way. You may still double-space on the computer, but if you're posting on the Web (at least), that extra space is being absorbed anyway. Modern use appears to be leading us to single space über alles, so in your word processor's box, type two spaces in the "Find" box, and a single space in the "Replace With" box (or whatever your program calls them.) Click "replace all" and then marvel at the number of excess spaces that have crept in. You may have to click this a couple times if you triple-spaced anything.
- Indent with styles, not tabs. Another typewriter holdover. All your indents should be done automatically by the style set in your text. If you're still tabbing or spacing over to indent or center things, you're in for a world of grief. I tend to do those only after typecasting something and then moving over to the keyboard. I also lose where the apostrophe key is, but that's just my own mental shortcoming.
- Underline is out, italics are in. Same reason as above, really. Underlining is what you do on a typewriter because you can't do italics. I mess this up all the time.
- Passive voice. Your English teacher was right; this is bad stuff. Passive voice is the air my novel breathes in November.
Beyond that, my find/replace magic pixies are something called "regular expressions," which are clever little ways to write things that you can't normally type in a find/replace box. Here be dragons.
In OpenOffice/LibreOffice, there is an option in the Find/Replace box to use them. In Word, these are called "wildcards," and work in a similar way. For example, if I normally press the Tab key in the find box (like to find a tab), the cursor moves. To actually find a tab in my work in LibreOffice, I can use the magical regular expression: \t
That's a "backslash-tee" for those reading aloud. In Word, the characters are slightly different: ^t ("carat-tee")
To look for a lowercase letter following a period -- which shouldn't ever happen -- I search for:
\. [a-z] (In LibreOffice: "backslash-dot-space-square bracket-a-dash-z")
. [a-z] (In Word: the dot is not a wildcard character, "dot-space-square bracket-a-dash-z")
I mess up dialog a lot: I can never remember on which side of the quote the punctuation goes (inside, for U.S. style.) Also, I've been known to put commas when I mean periods, or vice versa. So:
"[\.,:;?!] in LibreOffice, to find the juxtaposed quote/punctuation
"[.,:;^?!] in Word
To look for commas at the end of dialog when there should have been a period... assuming that I capitalized correctly:
," [A-Z] in both LibreOffice and Word
To look for periods that should have been commas:
\." [a-z] in LibreOffice
." [a-z] in Word
Passive voice is a killer. I am particular fond of using the could (verb) construct instead of the more active form, as in "She could see the gorilla" instead of the far better "She saw the gorilla." So:
Also, was (verb)ing shows up a lot in my writing. "She was running" versus "She ran." This is a strange one. It looks for "was", followed by a space, and a bunch of stuff that's not a space that ends in "ing" So:
was [^ ]+ing in LibreOffice
was ?@(ing)> in Word (I think: untested!)
These magic spells go a long way towards polishing out the really rough spots on a draft.