Hunt Down Adverbs with a Macro

by C.K. MacLeod

...the road to hell is paved with adverbs and I will shout it from the rooftops.

~Steven King

Adverb

Do you use -ly words in your writing? Do you use them with the dialogue tags he said and she said?

Example: "Who do you think you are?" she said arrogantly.

According to author Steven King, using adverbs in your writing, particularly with dialogue tags, can be a problem.

You can hunt down -ly adverbs with a macro. Karen Woodward has good multipurpose -ly macro, or you can insert your own list of -ly words in the macro script below (I've gotten you started). The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists, by Edward Bernard Fry et al. has a fabulous list of adverbs commonly used with dialogue tags.

Copy the macro from Sub to End Sub and paste it into Word's Visual Basic Application (VBA). Word will highlight all of the adverbs in bright green.


Sub lyWords()
'
' Highlights -ly words used in tags
'
' Written by Roger Mortis, revised by Subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod
'
Dim range As range
Dim i As Long
Dim TargetList
TargetList = Array( "angrily", "cautiously", "happily", "sadly",  "unhappily")

For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)

Set range = ActiveDocument.range
With range.Find
.Text = TargetList(i)
.Format = True
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = True
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
range.HighlightColorIndex = wdBrightGreen
Loop
End With
Next
End Sub


Remember to use judgement with the results of any macro. This macro will highlight -ly words, but only you can decide if each word is helping or hindering your writing.

Not sure what a macro is? See this post for an explanation. See also the videos for adding a macro and running a macro in Microsoft Word 2010.

What do you do with the highlighted words this macro finds? See Carla Douglas' post at the Beyond Paper Editing blog for suggestions.

Image by Quinn Dombrowski

How to Design A Book Cover in Word

Word icon

By C.K. MacLeod

@CKmacleodwriter

Did you know you can design an ebook cover in Word? I'd have hardly believed it unless I'd tried it myself. Until now, I've been limping rather awkwardly in GIMP. But creating a cover in Word has blown things wide open for me.

Idea to Ebook cover31Jan14_01

Graphic designer Derek Murphy wrote a tutorial that helped me to create the cover on the left. I am not a designer, but I learned an awful lot about design principles just by following his steps. He's a great teacher.

I entered the cover in the Ebook Cover Design Awards competition on the Book Designer blog. You can see the results here. (You'll need to scroll down three-quarters of the way to see the cover.) Not bad for the first time out.

ECDA-GoldStar-Mar-2014

If you have Word 2010 on your computer, and you'd like to try your hand at designing a cover just for fun, give Derek's tutorial a try. It's so much easier than designing a cover in GIMP.

Cover Design Quick Steps

  1. Follow Derek Murphy's tutorial to the letter.

  2. Convert your Word cover into a JPG or PNG using one of these tools.

Read more at the Beyond Paper blog.

Find Passive Words in Your Writing

Verb, pure verb

Passive words can make your writing dull. Use this macro to find passive words so you can replace them with strong, active words. Word will highlight passive words in bright green.

Copy the macro from Sub to End Sub and paste it into Microsoft Word's Visual Basic Application (VBA). This free 20-minute macro course will show you how.


Sub PassiveWords()

' Highlights passive words

' Written by Roger Mortis, revised by Subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod; words selected from Ryan Macklin's passive words list at http://ryanmacklin.com/2012/05/passive-voice-words/

Dim range As range
Dim i As Long
Dim TargetList
TargetList = Array("be", "being", "been", "am", "is", "are", "was", "were", "has", "have", "had", "do", "did", "does", "can", "could", "shall", "should", "will", "would", "might", "must", "may")

For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)

Set range = ActiveDocument.range
With range.Find
.Text = TargetList(i)
.Format = True
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = True
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
range.HighlightColorIndex = wdBrightGreen
Loop
End With
Next

End Sub


Remember to use judgement with the results of any macro. This macro will highlight passive words, but only you can decide if each word is helping or hindering your writing.

Image by Rebecca Siegel