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I promised earlier to provide useful content as I report on the progress of my novel.  Useful I guess to anyone else writing a novel.  I’m currently in a final read-through of my manuscript and have discovered a nice editing tip to share.

I have a spacing issue with some sentences.  Initially, before I fixed it, one or two sentences per page.  And I have nearly 500 pages.  Spacing is the term ascribed to when a line of text doesn’t complete the row as expected before beginning on the next row.  The carriage return is off.  My first reaction was to place the cursor at the start of the next row and hit backspace, expecting one to three words to move back up to the previous row.  But this didn’t work, the words joined without a space.  So it’s a spacing issue.

I’ve known about this issue for months.  It occurred when I stopped using Apple Pages for my editor and began using Microsoft Word.  I preferred Pages because it had better export functions to ebook formats and whatnot.  I was eventually forced into using Word because that’s the file format the industry prefers.  Everyone is too stupid to use their preferred tool unless given the proper format, so we have to all agree on a single format.  I suspect the spacing issue resulted from some bug when exporting from Pages to Word.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to fix it without retyping most of the split sentence.  Given the massive number of spacing issues, fixing this was tedious.  I kept putting it off until I could figure out the root cause and an easy fix.  I then noticed a pattern.  This typically occurred when the next line contained the start of a new sentence.  I wondered if it wasn’t the result of my double spaces between sentences.  This requires a tangential explanation.

I type two spaces between sentences.  Some people will tell you I do this because I’m over 40.  I’ll tell you I do this because I took a typing class in high school and was taught to do this.  The modern convention is to type only a single space.  I’m staunchly in the camp that two spaces is better and refuse to change.  As if my muscle memory will even allow me to change.  Long story short, I backspaced a sentence down to a single space, and the spacing issue corrected itself.  It was truly magical.  So I performed this simple edit for a while, but even this shortcut to retyping partial sentences became tedious after a 100 pages.

I then had this thought that maybe I could leverage the search and replace function.  But search on what?  It occurred to me that, as far as the computer knows, a space is a character as much as any letter.  I typed two spaces in the search function to test this out.  I couldn’t exactly see the spaces, but I knew they were there.  Before I could tab down to the replace with line, the number of found instances of two spaces began to populate to the right of the search bar.  This gave me confidence.  I typed a single space into the replace function and hit enter.  Viola, hundreds of double spaces were replaced by a single space, essentially all the inter-sentence spaces were fixed.

More importantly, nearly all my spacing issues were fixed.  I’m finding a handful of additional spacing issues as I perform my final read-through.  They don’t have a sentence starting on the next line, so it’s a variation of the bug that caused this.  I’m fixing these by retyping part of the sentence.  Not so many to make this tedious.  I’m finding very few typos.  I’m fixing some other things like italicizing words when I switch from third person to first person.  Stuff like that.  I expect to be done by the weekend.

Next step will be designing my page layout and publishing.  My brother-in-law is researching the best font to use for my title.  Right now I’m looking at stencil.  I need a war theme.  I welcome your suggestions.  For all my beta readers, give your feedback quick.  I’m still targeting Black Friday.