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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beware the "Quick Fix"

When we cut down a different street to avoid traffic, a short cut might be a good thing, but as it pertains to writing, we benefit from considering each move—which is something I failed to do last week.  
 
You see, after listening to good advice and allowing it to rest, I let myself print out the first draft of the novel in progress after ignoring it for over a month.  In this first “top down” review, I planned to make big-picture notes on flow and consistency.  I’d mark where things need to be expanded and where I need to cut, before getting into a chapter-by-chapter examination of the story.

One easy-to-solve flaw I detected, involved a character I first named Stanley, Stan for short.  He appears in one chapter, and is mentioned a few times later in the book.  Somewhere along the line, I decided I’d prefer to call him Sebastian, nick-named “Sebbie,” and I changed his name. 

During last week’s first-ever analysis; I realized I missed changing Stan to Sebbie in several places, so I called on the Microsoft Word Gods to conduct a “Word Find.”  When Microsoft informed me I’d missed “Stan” 65 times, I didn’t occur to me that, while an important character, Stan/Sebbie only appeared briefly--so the number Microsoft came up with should have triggered research.   

Instead I took a short cut and hit “Find/Replace All.” 

The next time I looked at the draft, I found:

Stand, Stands and Standing morphed to Sebbied, Stebbies, and Sebbieing
Understand and Understanding became UnderSebbied and UnderSebbieing
Distance turned into DisSebbiece, Circumstances to  CircumSebbieces and Mustang to MusSebbieng

As I turned pages, I discovered Resistant turned to ResiSebbient, Assistant and Assistance became AssisSebbiet and AssisSebbiece; Instance became InSebbiece and contestant became conteStebbiet.  Every time I think I've found them all, I find another word with "Sebbie" instead of "stan" in the middle.

Instead of fixing my mistake, I created a new language.

Ouch.  

What shortcuts have backfired on you?

15 comments:

Old Kitty said...

I love how Word tries to be super duper helpful and instead gets itself into such a tangled mess, bless! But I love your new language! Hoorah for Stan! Take care
x

Sarah said...

HAHAHA--I have totally done this exact thing! I changed a character's name from "Rick" to "Ian", and forgot to select "replace whole words only" and ended up with things like "tIan", "tIanles", and "bIan" among other things. I hope you got your ms sorted out!

Jan Morrison said...

This has happened to me a sickening amount of times! Now I've got it - put a space before and after your word. I don't find the 'whole word' thing works but the space thing does...
I had to find all my 'me's' that still trailed about after changing my 86 thous word doc from first to third person. YIKES!

Colette Martin said...

Oh, too funny. This is why I don't ever use "replace all" and instead "find next". It saves time in the long run.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Sorry to laugh at your expense, but you've gotta admit, this is funny! Sorry for the extra hassle it caused for you, but thanks for saving me from doing the same thing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh! That's why I'm cautious with that feature and do the find/replace one word at a time.
Your new language is amusing though.

Morgan said...

LOL! You've done something not too many people have succeeded in doing ;)

Carol Kilgore said...

I've done this before! And felt like a total nitwit. On the next draft I found them all :)

Jo said...

ROFL I'm sorry to laugh at your expense, but this cracked me up so much!!

Nancy Thompson said...

I had to giggle when I read this post. I,too, changed a character's name, my MC. His name was Skylar which I love, but one agent said she thought it was a girl's name so I changed it to Tyler in one draft and made revisions then saved it to another file name and tried to change ever Tyler and Ty to Skylar and Sky. But Word didn't know I only meant those instances that were capped and changed every instance where I just used the word sky. And when I changed it all back, every word that ended it "ty" like certainty, all changed to end in "sky", like certainsky. Ugh! What a pain in the boosky, I mean booty.

Mimi said...

That is hilarious! Though not so for you- it must be very frustrating.

I have similar problems with the iPhone, it autocorrects stuff, I click send, in a hurry, and then realise I've sent gobblygook.
Oh dear!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh my gosh! That is too funny--of course if it happened to me, I'd be banging my forehead on the keyboard. LOL

Stephen Tremp said...

I had Spellcheck "fix" a word and change it to sound dirty and embarassing to me. I can laugh now. Can;t repeat it here though hahaha.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm sorry I'm laughing. But that is funny. And I've done it too. Can't remember what word, but after I re-read the ms. I was horrified.

Juliann Wetz said...

I've done exactly the same thing. Isn't it funny how we change a character's name mid-stream and sometimes don't even think about it?