Writing

Google docs word count wizardry

The Preamble

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and I decided to use Google Docs because I can log in from home or work (during my lunch break) or on my phone (while I’m waiting for the kids to get off the school bus.) I’m basically writing the story in chronological order, so each day I add the date and then pick the story up where I left off. But because I’m a bit of a pantser, there are things I find out about the story as I go along which require changes to what I’ve already written.

Now, my general rule for getting through a first draft is to keep moving forward and don’t look back, but sometimes there are little things that I can change quickly or move around, and to do this I switch from Editing mode to Suggesting mode so I can easily keep track of what I change. (Here’s an earlier post where I explain how to switch to suggesting mode in Google Docs — and look! I figured out how to do the first line indent.)

The Problem

Unfortunately, suggestions are ignored when calculating word count.

A Google Doc, in Suggesting mode, with the Tools menu open and Word Count highlighted.

It took a lot of googling (Why are some things so hard to find? Why?) but I eventually stumbled upon a solution.

The Wizardry

Instead of selecting Word Count from the Tools menu directly, choose Review Suggested Edits instead.

A Google Doc, with the Tools menu open and Review Suggested Edits highlighted.

This pops up a little toolbox on the right hand side. Be very, very careful not to click the Accept All or Reject All buttons. Instead change the Show Suggested Edits dropdown to Preview “Accept All”.

A Google Doc, with the Review Suggested Edits toolbox open.

This will show you a version of your document as if all the suggestions had been accepted. Then you can go to Tools -> Word Count and get the right result.

Once you’re done, click the X on the Review Suggested Edits toolbox to the normal version of your doc.

Mihi mai ra. 😉

Book Reviews Reading

Review: Shadow of the Mountain by Anna Mackenzie

A photo of the book Shadow of the Mountain by Anna Mackenzie

What is it?

Shadow of the Mountain by Anna Mackenzie

First published 2008

A New Zealand, young adult contemporary novel.

The Back Cover Blurb

Geneva’s world has been blown apart by loss. Maybe that’s why her decisions are not always the sharpest. One thing she knows: there’s no way back to the person she once was.

When Angus appears in her orbit it seems an omen that things are changing — but life is never that simple.

In trying to find a way forward, Geneva risks her friendships, risks repeating the errors of the past, even risks her life.
But maybe there’s no other way to find the person she can be.

What I thought

This was another NZ book I found by browsing the library shelves and choosing something I’d normally pass up otherwise. To be perfectly honest, the writing wasn’t quite there for me, but I did enjoy the story.

Geneva’s family is dealing with grief, and it has taken its toll, and I thought their pain and sense of loss came across really well on the page. I liked Angus and Geneva’s relationship with him, which wasn’t always straight forward. I loved how the setting was really important to the story, and the New Zealandness of it really came through. And it had a satisfying ending, with hope for the future.

Book Reviews Reading

Review: Alex by Tessa Duder

A photo of the book Alex by Tessa Duder

What is it?

Alex by Tessa Duder

First published 1987

A New Zealand, young adult (historical?) novel.

The Back Cover Blurb

Alexandra Archer is swimming to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rome. In the past year she has fallen in love and knows how it feels to lose.

Alex faces intense competition and will have to swim the race of her life to achieve her dream.

What I thought

I remember I must’ve been about 12 when a girl who I wouldn’t exactly call a friend was reading Alex. I know I was in the 10 to 12 range, because we were in the hall I went to for Girl Guides. I can see the scene so clearly. A book about a girl swimmer? Ugh, no thanks.

12 year old me was so wrong.

Actually, no. I don’t think 12 year old me would’ve liked this book. It didn’t have teenage brothers solving mysteries, or swords and sorcery, or a man who collected pigs. But 38 year old me did.

Crap, I’m old.

But I loved Alex (the character). She’s strong and driven and vulnerable. I loved how the story is split between chapters showing her thoughts during her final race and the lead-up to it. The writing style almost lost me in parts, because it’s very tell-y. Alex rambles on about her life, and sometimes I thought I’d actually like to see some of this stuff instead of just being told about it. But her narration is so charming, it didn’t turn me off the book.

I’m glad I finally read it, and I’d highly recommend it. Alex (the book) is a classic piece of New Zealand literature, and Alex (the character) is still relevant today.