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Photo by Trần Toàn on Unsplash

Photo by Trần Toàn on Unsplash

Have you opened that Microsoft Word document to start editing or writing to find to your horror that you are staring at those ugly glaring little red squiggles bringing to your attention two words strung together missing the space between?

Then the horror deepens when you realize the document is littered with them. You think, “What the Hell?! That wasn’t there before.”

You second guess yourself. “That wasn’t like that before, right?”

You wonder if you missed it. But how? And so many?

No, you aren’t losing your mind, and yes, maybe Word is gaslighting you.

It is real. It’s a thing. You are not trapped in The Twighlight Zone or in a Tales from the Dark Side.

If you are like me and running ancient software, you will occasionally run into issues caused by the age of your program. Sometimes these problems come up only when you have to reinstall them.

Due to an unforeseen computer problem, I had to reinstall my Microsoft Office. I’m running 2007. Sometimes I’m on another machine running Word 2010.

I now find myself regularly coming up against this problem: When I open a Word document last saved in one version in the other, Word is losing spaces in the translation from one Word version to the other. A lot of spaces.

This is a huge formatting and editing headache when you are getting an entire novel ready for publication.

After some research I learned the issue is a known glitch in Word 2007 and specific to the conversion between 2007 and 2010 versions.

The good news is Microsoft developed a fix for it and it was likely fixed in a patch to Word 2007 years ago.

Now here is the bad news: I found the Office fix, installing the patch, but it won’t work.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2633585/spaces-are-missing-between-some-words-when-you-open-a-word-2010-docume

The problem with this fix is that Microsoft is no longer supporting Word 2007, so the patch is no longer available.

Since installing the patch is no longer possible, that leaves other workarounds involving either getting creative or spending money.

1) The Money Fix: Throw money at your computer. Literally. No? Okay, figuratively.

You can uninstall Office and purchase a bare bones one device only Word, Excel, and PowerPoint only Office package with no service available for the one time purchase price of $169 CAD.

Alternatively, you can get more with a monthly subscription for $8 per month ($79/year) or even more for $11 per month ($109/year)

*prices at the time of the article

https://products.office.com/en-ca/buy/office

While I’m not a “starving artist”, I am an author and I am broke. So, I’m going to look at what is behind door number 2.

2) The Creative Fix:

Workaround 1: Before saving that Word document you can do a “replace all” to replace all single spaces with double spaces. After opening the document in the other Word program repeat the replace all changing all double spaces with single spaces. This is clunky and impractical, but a workaround. You will have to do it every time you will be working on or sending to someone using a machine with the other Word version. And, there is no guarantee it won’t occasionally drop a double spaced double-space.

Note: to make this work I had to show all paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols before doing the replace all.

Workaround 2: Both Word 2007 and 2010 saves files as a .docx document. So it’s not as simple as looking at the extension on the file name.

I will note here that the curious thing is the issue with Word dropping spaces does not happen with every document I have. It seems random and yet specific to certain documents. This led me to this fix.

I tried saving as .doc

Instead of just saving as “Word Document” (.docx extension), I selected save as “Word 97-2003 Document” (.doc extension)

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/compat/office-file-format-reference

While this is not a perfect workaround, and it will show “[Compatibility Mode]” at the top of your document, it fixes the problem for now until I can afford to update my Office program to the current decade.

I’m pretty sure when I tested this theory Word knew what I was doing, because when I opened the document (.docx) last saved in Word 2010 in Word 2007, EVERY SINGLE SPACE WAS GONE. Not just random spaces, every one.

The Word 97-2003 document (.doc) on the other hand was just fine.

Go technology!

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

We’ve all experienced it in the world of relationships, first, second, or third hand; the person who distances their self from those around them. A fear of intimacy, of others getting to know them, or perhaps of revealing their deepest darkest secrets? These are possible reasons.

In your stories, you want to reveal your characters’ deepest secrets. You want the reader to uncover the story’s darkest hidden agendas. In time.

While closely guarding those, doling out hints in tantalizing little teases, you don’t want your reader to feel pushed away. It is not a bad relationship where the other party is treated like an outsider.

Distancing the readers distances them from the story and the characters. They need to feel connected to them to really care about them.

The language you use writing the story needs to invite the reader in to share the experience. Don’t put up a wall of distance, pushing the reader away, with your choice of words.

While I revisit my old friends, The McAllister Clan (they are of Celtic descent, a small tidbit revealed in one of the books), I am rediscovering things I learned through endless hours spent writing, editing, researching, editing, researching writing, editing, reading, editing, researching editing, and yes, more editing.

Third person feelings, describing the characters’ feelings as an outside observer narrating them, gives the reader a sense of distance from the feelings.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every writing method has its place and time. But, when you want your reader drawn deeply into your character’s psyche, too much can leave the reader feeling like an outside observer too.

Writers: We learn and improve, but we don’t always see the ways we have improved until we take that in depth look back at our old selves.

Editing bits:

An unexplained coldness seeps through Michael’s veins and he felt the sudden urge to pee.

Changed to: An unexplained coldness seeps through Michael’s veins and he has the sudden urge to urinate.

– two words changed. One to draw the reader into the immediacy of the moment, the other because it’s a more mature word option and that’s the target audience.

She felt relief at the sight of him, the emotion reflecting in her expression.

Changed to: She is relieved at the sight of him, the emotion reflecting in her expression.

– two words changed to bring the reader into the character’s emotions and share them.
Writing is an adventure of continual learning and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Together, we can bring new worlds of discovery to new readers.

The McAllister Series will return better than before.

  • Where the Bodies Are
  • The McAllister Farm
  • Hunting Michael Underwood
  • Killing David McAllister (new – coming)

In the meantime, you can enjoy these:

  • The Gypsy Queen (new release)
  • Garden Grove

The Gypsy Queen:

Travis discovers his newest get rich quick scheme in an abandoned riverboat. Dreaming of the wealth and glamour she will bring, he becomes obsessed with rebuilding her.

Darius sees only rot, decay, and their ruination in the old boat. Travis’s best friend and unwilling business partner, Darius is unwilling to abandon Travis to his fate. He is committed to seeing it through, regardless of the costs to himself.

Struggling to rebuild her together, they are pitted against everyone from the Shipbuilders’ Union to the even more ruthless local casino boss, who desires to possess the Gypsy Queen himself.

As Travis and Darius’s lives become further intertwined with the Gypsy Queen, the strange accidents surrounding the boat escalate. Under the Gypsy Queen’s spell, Travis is oblivious to the sense of dread that fills those who enter the boat as she awakens with a hunger for blood. The Gypsy Queen’s dark past will not be forgotten.

Garden Grove

Garden Grove Meadows, “Where families come to live.” A new housing development promises a better future in a growing bedroom community. A project that seems to be the eye of a storm of strange events. Plagued with vandalism, the work crew poisoned, altered blueprints, and human remains intentionally planted for the crew to find.

Who is trying to stop the development?

Includes short story Old Mill Road

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