The spell check really is your friend. No, your word processor doesn’t know how to spell everything, and it may suggest some bizarre alternatives, but again, it’s pointing out possible problems. Now here’s the trick. When you’re writing an otherworld piece, a fantasy, science fiction, or other variation, you can run into a lot of words that are not in the default business dictionary. However, all is not lost. Word (and most word processors) offers the option of custom dictionaries, text files that contain words you choose to put in there. This serves two purposes: you only have to verify the spelling once by adding it to the dictionary instead of using ignore. Second, when you’re done with your spell check, you can open the text file and compare the entries to make sure the main character isn’t Kitath in most instances but Kiteth whenever followed by an “‘s” for example. In my most recent copyedit, a minor character’s name changed spelling (an “i” to a “y”) in the last thirty pages. Without the custom dictionary, I might have missed the change since that character had been off-screen for some time before those thirty pages. It also provides a simple way of collecting the “unique” words if you choose to have a glossary for your work. All you need then is to define the terms.
To create a custom dictionary in Word 2003 (works with modifications for later versions of Word, and concepts should be similar for other word processors).
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