Tuesday, February 18, 2014


by Donna K. Weaver

So, you wrote a 90,000-word book, you edited it like crazy, and you took a huge leap and sent it to your critique partners for feedback. Now you have those critiques back, and it's time to read them, consider the input, maybe ask for clarification, and edit your manuscript again based upon your take on their input.

I want you to think about that for a minute.

If you had five critique partners--like I did with A Change of Plans--you now have FIVE 90,000-word books to go through. And this isn't read-to-find-out-what-happens-next reading, it's deep analysis to decide if you agree with the input and have to reconsider your approach or decide you had it right to begin with.

Does that make you tired? It makes me tired. Going through one 90,000-word book takes a long time. Going through five 90,000-word books, one at a time, takes a ridiculous amount of time. And, as you're editing, trying to remember what the other CPs said about that scene in their critiques can make you nuts.

There's an easier way.

In Microsoft Word (versions 2007 and later should look similar to this), there's a nifty feature called Compare under the Review tab.

Click on the triangle pointing down and you have two options. Choose Combine.

A new window pops up.

It lets you choose what two documents you're going to combine. Save this newly combined doc under a new name.

All the redline/strikeout marks from both documents remain as do the Comment boxes. However, Word can't keep all the comments made in the same area from both original documents. The comment box and the initials of the person making them are there for everyone, but only one document (which you choose) will keep the comment content. You can always open the original to see what you're missing.

Go through this process again--combining another critique with the new combined file. I save each with a new name, usually identifying which CPs are included in the new doc. (example: ACoP Combined-MM-DW-RA-SB)

Here's what the combined document might look like. Notice the different colors and the initials. That tells you who made the changes and comments. This makes it easier if you need to open that person's critic document to review the comment.

One of the things that strikes me with this visual representation is that I can go along a few pages and there will be no changes. Then, suddenly, everyone comments on a paragraph. I almost don't need to know what they said. I know there's a problem--unless it's awesomely funny. Well, awesomely funny wouldn't be my stuff.

This system makes it so much easier for me to go through all that input. I have a full-time day job, so my time is limited. Anything that makes this process easier is something I like.

Do you have any shortcuts that you use when editing?


ReflectionsbyCindy said...

Thanks, Donna! This will make it easier, for sure.
Cindy Whitney

davjonz said...


Canda said...

This is wonderful! Thanks so much, Donna. I had no idea it had that feature.

Jae Randall said...

Thanks Donna! I'll tell my group about this.

Renae Mackley said...

Great info. I wonder what else I don't know that can be this useful. Thanks!

Carrie Butler said...

Brilliant! :D

JeffO said...

Great idea--sadly, I hate Word 2007+ (I have it at work; I have 2002 or something like it at home). I'll have to see if there's something similar on this version, though. Great tip!

Tammy Theriault said...

nifty little trick girl you are!!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing shortcut. I had no idea I can do that. I will definitely use this.

Mark Noce said...

Good advice, I definitely follow it:)