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It's been a while since I put something up on my main blog that was distinctly writing related (besides the interesting links every Friday), so I thought I'd crosspost this one here in case some of you don't know about my main, or are finding this one anew.

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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Several people have been asking me about my pulse pen and what I thought about it. Only thing is that I hadn’t had the chance to take it out on a road trip yet. Well, now I have and here are the results. This is what the pen captured. You can see my lousy handwriting in its full glory…and I was even sort of trying to write well, okay, trying when I remembered :p. Then I ran it through the OCR software. It certainly isn’t perfect, but the reason for the picture is so you can see what it had to work with. My older son wrote a sentence to test it in his cursive and it translated perfectly. Maybe I should improve my handwriting? Oh, and the pen also recorded the audio for the whole presentation in a usable sound file despite sitting in the left-hand, second to last row of a curved lecture hall.


Anyway, on to the show! (more…)

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Margaret McGaffey Fisk

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