The ShadowMaster


H.G. Wells is widely regarded as the father of science fiction. Such timeless classics as The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Time Machine are but a few of his sci-fi masterpieces.

But in 1894 Wells ventured into writing a Gothic horror classic; a short story entitled The Red Room; an atmospheric suspense-laden tale which quickly became very  popular. It contains many of the usual Gothic ingredients – an abandoned mansion with a violent history, weird old characters foreshadowing dire warnings, and, most importantly, excellent narrative use of shadow and light, and how darkness and uncertainty can create deep irrational fear.

If you haven’t already, I recommend that you read this short story below, because I believe it inspires depth and versatility of prose, even in this day and age.

THE RED ROOM

By H. G. Wells


"It's your own choosing," said the man with the withered arm once more.
I heard the faint sound of a stick and a shambling step on the flags in the passage outside. The door creaked on its hinges as a second old man entered, more bent, more wrinkled, more aged even than the first. He supported himself by the help of a crutch, his eyes were covered by a shade, and his lower lip, half averted, hung pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth. He made straight for an armchair on the opposite side of the table, sat down clumsily, and began to cough. The man with the withered hand gave the newcomer a short glance of positive dislike; the old woman took no notice of his arrival, but remained with her eyes fixed steadily on the fire.
"I said—it's your own choosing," said the man with the withered hand, when the coughing had ceased for a while.
"It's my own choosing," I answered.
The man with the shade became aware of my presence for the first time, and threw his head back for a moment, and sidewise, to see me. I caught a momentary glimpse of his eyes, small and bright and inflamed. Then he began to cough and splutter again.
"Why don't you drink?" said the man with the withered arm, pushing the beer toward him. The man with the shade poured out a glassful with a shaking hand, that splashed half as much again on the deal table. A monstrous shadow of him crouched upon the wall, and mocked his action as he poured and drank. I must confess I had scarcely expected these grotesque custodians. There is, to my mind, something inhuman in senility, something crouching and atavistic; the human qualities seem to drop from old people insensibly day by day. The three of them made me feel uncomfortable with their gaunt silences, their bent carriage, their evident unfriendliness to me and to one another. And that night, perhaps, I was in the mood for uncomfortable impressions. I resolved to get away from their vague fore-shadowings of the evil things upstairs.
"If," said I, "you will show me to this haunted room of yours, I will make myself comfortable there."
The old man with the cough jerked his head back so suddenly that it startled me, and shot another glance of his red eyes at me from out of the darkness under the shade, but no one answered me. I waited a minute, glancing from one to the other. The old woman stared like a dead body, glaring into the fire with lackluster eyes.
"If," I said, a little louder, "if you will show me to this haunted room of yours, I will relieve you from the task of entertaining me."
"There's a candle on the slab outside the door," said the man with the withered hand, looking at my feet as he addressed me. "But if you go to the Red Room tonight—"
"This night of all nights!" said the old woman, softly.
"—You go alone."
"Very well," I answered, shortly, "and which way do I go?"
"You go along the passage for a bit," said he, nodding his head on his shoulder at the door, "until you come to a spiral staircase; and on the second landing is a door covered with green baize. Go through that, and down the long corridor to the end, and the Red Room is on your left up the steps."
"Have I got that right?" I said, and repeated his directions.
He corrected me in one particular.
"And you are really going?" said the man with the shade, looking at me again for the third time with that queer, unnatural tilting of the face.
"This night of all nights!" whispered the old woman.
"It is what I came for," I said, and moved toward the door. As I did so, the old man with the shade rose and staggered round the table, so as to be closer to the others and to the fire. At the door I turned and looked at them, and saw they were all close together, dark against the firelight, staring at me over their shoulders, with an intent expression on their ancient faces.
"Goodnight," I said, setting the door open.
"It's your own choosing," said the man with the withered arm.

I left the door wide open until the candle was well alight, and then I shut them in, and walked down the chilly, echoing passage.
I must confess that the oddness of these three old pensioners in whose charge her ladyship had left the castle, and the deep-toned, old-fashioned furniture of the housekeeper's room, in which they foregathered, had affected me curiously in spite of my effort to keep myself at a matter-of-fact phase. They seemed to belong to another age, an older age, an age when things spiritual were indeed to be feared, when common sense was uncommon, an age when omens and witches were credible, and ghosts beyond denying. Their very existence, thought I, is spectral; the cut of their clothing, fashions born in dead brains; the ornaments and conveniences in the room about them even are ghostly—the thoughts of vanished men, which still haunt rather than participate in the world of today. And the passage I was in, long and shadowy, with a film of moisture glistening on the wall, was as gaunt and cold as a thing that is dead and rigid. But with an effort I sent such thoughts to the right-about. The long, drafty subterranean passage was chilly and dusty, and my candle flared and made the shadows cower and quiver. The echoes rang up and down the spiral staircase, and a shadow came sweeping up after me, and another fled before me into the darkness overhead. I came to the wide landing and stopped there for a moment listening to a rustling that I fancied I heard creeping behind me, and then, satisfied of the absolute silence, pushed open the unwilling baize-covered door and stood in the silent corridor.
The effect was scarcely what I expected, for the moonlight, coming in by the great window on the grand staircase, picked out everything in vivid black shadow or reticulated silvery illumination. Everything seemed in its proper position; the house might have been deserted on the yesterday instead of twelve months ago. There were candles in the sockets of the sconces, and whatever dust had gathered on the carpets or upon the polished flooring was distributed so evenly as to be invisible in my candlelight. A waiting stillness was over everything. I was about to advance, and stopped abruptly. A bronze group stood upon the landing hidden from me by a corner of the wall; but its shadow fell with marvelous distinctness upon the white paneling, and gave me the impression of someone crouching to waylay me. The thing jumped upon my attention suddenly. I stood rigid for half a moment, perhaps. Then, with my hand in the pocket that held the revolver, I advanced, only to discover a Ganymede and Eagle, glistening in the moonlight. That incident for a time restored my nerve, and a dim porcelain Chinaman on a buhl table, whose head rocked as I passed, scarcely startled me.
The door of the Red Room and the steps up to it were in a shadowy corner. I moved my candle from side to side in order to see clearly the nature of the recess in which I stood, before opening the door. Here it was, thought I, that my predecessor was found, and the memory of that story gave me a sudden twinge of apprehension. I glanced over my shoulder at the black Ganymede in the moonlight, and opened the door of the Red Room rather hastily, with my face half turned to the pallid silence of the corridor.
I entered, closed the door behind me at once, turned the key I found in the lock within, and stood with the candle held aloft surveying the scene of my vigil, the great Red Room of Lorraine Castle, in which the young Duke had died; or rather in which he had begun his dying, for he had opened the door and fallen headlong down the steps I had just ascended. That had been the end of his vigil, of his gallant attempt to conquer the ghostly tradition of the place, and never, I thought, had apoplexy better served the ends of superstition. There were other and older stories that clung to the room, back to the half-incredible beginning of it all, the tale of a timid wife and the tragic end that came to her husband's jest of frightening her. And looking round that huge shadowy room with its black window bays, its recesses and alcoves, its dusty brown-red hangings and dark gigantic furniture, one could well understand the legends that had sprouted in its black corners, its germinating darknesses. My candle was a little tongue of light in the vastness of the chamber; its rays failed to pierce to the opposite end of the room, and left an ocean of dull red mystery and suggestion, sentinel shadows and watching darknesses beyond its island of light. And the stillness of desolation brooded over it all.
I must confess some impalpable quality of that ancient room disturbed me. I tried to fight the feeling down. I resolved to make a systematic examination of the place, and so, by leaving nothing to the imagination, dispel the fanciful suggestions of the obscurity before they obtained a hold upon me. After satisfying myself of the fastening of the door, I began to walk round the room, peering round each article of furniture, tucking up the valances of the bed and opening its curtains wide. In one place there was a distinct echo to my footsteps, the noises I made seemed so little that they enhanced rather than broke the silence of the place. I pulled up the blinds and examined the fastenings of the several windows. Attracted by the fall of a particle of dust, I leaned forward and looked up the blackness of the wide chimney. Then, trying to preserve my scientific attitude of mind, I walked round and began tapping the oak paneling for any secret opening, but I desisted before reaching the alcove. I saw my face in a mirror—white.
There were two big mirrors in the room, each with a pair of sconces bearing candles, and on the mantelshelf, too, were candles in china candlesticks. All these I lit one after the other. The fire was laid—an unexpected consideration from the old housekeeper—and I lit it, to keep down any disposition to shiver, and when it was burning well I stood round with my back to it and regarded the room again. I had pulled up a chintz-covered armchair and a table to form a kind of barricade before me. On this lay my revolver, ready to hand. My precise examination had done me a little good, but I still found the remoter darkness of the place and its perfect stillness too stimulating for the imagination. The echoing of the stir and crackling of the fire was no sort of comfort to me. The shadow in the alcove at the end of the room began to display that undefinable quality of a presence, that odd suggestion of a lurking living thing that comes so easily in silence and solitude. And to reassure myself, I walked with a candle into it and satisfied myself that there was nothing tangible there. I stood that candle upon the floor of the alcove and left it in that position.
By this time I was in a state of considerable nervous tension, although to my reason there was no adequate cause for my condition. My mind, however, was perfectly clear. I postulated quite unreservedly that nothing supernatural could happen, and to pass the time I began stringing some rhymes together, Ingoldsby fashion, concerning the original legend of the place. A few I spoke aloud, but the echoes were not pleasant. For the same reason I also abandoned, after a time, a conversation with myself upon the impossibility of ghosts and haunting. My mind reverted to the three old and distorted people downstairs, and I tried to keep it upon that topic.
The somber reds and grays of the room troubled me; even with its seven candles the place was merely dim. The light in the alcove flaring in a draft, and the fire flickering, kept the shadows and penumbra perpetually shifting and stirring in a noiseless flighty dance. Casting about for a remedy, I recalled the wax candles I had seen in the corridor, and, with a slight effort, carrying a candle and leaving the door open, I walked out into the moonlight, and presently returned with as many as ten. These I put in the various knick-knacks of china with which the room was sparsely adorned, and lit and placed them where the shadows had lain deepest, some on the floor, some in the window recesses, arranging and rearranging them until at last my seventeen candles were so placed that not an inch of the room but had the direct light of at least one of them. It occurred to me that when the ghost came I could warn him not to trip over them. The room was now quite brightly illuminated. There was something very cheering and reassuring in these little silent streaming flames, and to notice their steady diminution of length offered me an occupation and gave me a reassuring sense of the passage of time.
Even with that, however, the brooding expectation of the vigil weighed heavily enough upon me. I stood watching the minute hand of my watch creep towards midnight.
Then something happened in the alcove. I did not see the candle go out, I simply turned and saw that the darkness was there, as one might start and see the unexpected presence of a stranger. The black shadow had sprung back to its place. "By Jove," said I aloud, recovering from my surprise, "that draft's a strong one;" and taking the matchbox from the table, I walked across the room in a leisurely manner to relight the corner again. My first match would not strike, and as I succeeded with the second, something seemed to blink on the wall before me. I turned my head involuntarily and saw that the two candles on the little table by the fireplace were extinguished. I rose at once to my feet.
"Odd," I said. "Did I do that myself in a flash of absent-mindedness?"
I walked back, relit one, and as I did so I saw the candle in the right sconce of one of the mirrors wink and go right out, and almost immediately its companion followed it. The flames vanished as if the wick had been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb, leaving the wick neither glowing nor smoking, but black. While I stood gaping the candle at the foot of the bed went out, and the shadows seemed to take another step toward me.
"This won't do!" said I, and first one and then another candle on the mantelshelf followed.
"What's up?" I cried, with a queer high note getting into my voice somehow. At that the candle on the corner of the wardrobe went out, and the one I had relit in the alcove followed.
"Steady on!" I said, "those candles are wanted," speaking with a half-hysterical facetiousness, and scratching away at a match the while, "for the mantel candlesticks." My hands trembled so much that twice I missed the rough paper of the matchbox. As the mantel emerged from darkness again, two candles in the remoter end of the room were eclipsed. But with the same match I also relit the larger mirror candles, and those on the floor near the doorway, so that for the moment I seemed to gain on the extinctions. But then in a noiseless volley there vanished four lights at once in different corners of the room, and I struck another match in quivering haste, and stood hesitating whither to take it.
As I stood undecided, an invisible hand seemed to sweep out the two candles on the table. With a cry of terror I dashed at the alcove, then into the corner and then into the window, relighting three as two more vanished by the fireplace, and then, perceiving a better way, I dropped matches on the iron-bound deedbox in the corner, and caught up the bedroom candlestick. With this I avoided the delay of striking matches, but for all that the steady process of extinction went on, and the shadows I feared and fought against returned, and crept in upon me, first a step gained on this side of me, then on that. I was now almost frantic with the horror of the coming darkness, and my self-possession deserted me. I leaped panting from candle to candle in a vain struggle against that remorseless advance.
I bruised myself in the thigh against the table, I sent a chair headlong, I stumbled and fell and whisked the cloth from the table in my fall. My candle rolled away from me and I snatched another as I rose. Abruptly this was blown out as I swung it off the table by the wind of my sudden movement, and immediately the two remaining candles followed. But there was light still in the room, a red light, that streamed across the ceiling and staved off the shadows from me. The fire! Of course I could still thrust my candle between the bars and relight it.
I turned to where the flames were still dancing between the glowing coals and splashing red reflections upon the furniture; made two steps toward the grate, and incontinently the flames dwindled and vanished, the glow vanished, the reflections rushed together and disappeared, and as I thrust the candle between the bars darkness closed upon me like the shutting of an eye, wrapped about me in a stifling embrace, sealed my vision, and crushed the last vestiges of self-possession from my brain. And it was not only palpable darkness, but intolerable terror. The candle fell from my hands. I flung out my arms in a vain effort to thrust that ponderous blackness away from me, and lifting up my voice, screamed with all my might, once, twice, thrice. Then I think I must have staggered to my feet. I know I thought suddenly of the moonlit corridor, and with my head bowed and my arms over my face, made a stumbling run for the door.
But I had forgotten the exact position of the door, and I struck myself heavily against the corner of the bed. I staggered back, turned, and was either struck or struck myself against some other bulky furnishing. I have a vague memory of battering myself thus to and fro in the darkness, of a heavy blow at last upon my forehead, of a horrible sensation of falling that lasted an age, of my last frantic effort to keep my footing, and then I remember no more.

I opened my eyes in daylight. My head was roughly bandaged, and the man with the withered hand was watching my face. I looked about me trying to remember what had happened, and for a space I could not recollect. I rolled my eyes into the corner and saw the old woman, no longer abstracted, no longer terrible, pouring out some drops of medicine from a little blue phial into a glass.
"Where am I?" I said. "I seem to remember you, and yet I can not remember who you are."
They told me then, and I heard of the haunted Red Room as one who bears a tale. "We found you at dawn," said he, "and there was blood on your forehead and lips."
I wondered that I had ever disliked him. The three of them in the daylight seemed commonplace old folk enough. The man with the green shade had his head bent as one who sleeps.
It was very slowly I recovered the memory of my experience.
"You believe now," said the old man with the withered hand, "that the room is haunted?" He spoke no longer as one who greets an intruder, but as one who condoles with a friend.
"Yes," said I, "the room is haunted."
"And you have seen it. And we who have been here all our lives have never set eyes upon it. Because we have never dared. Tell us, is it truly the old earl who—"
"No," said I, "it is not."
"I told you so," said the old lady, with the glass in her hand. "It is his poor young countess who was frightened—"
"It is not," I said. "There is neither ghost of earl nor ghost of countess in that room; there is no ghost there at all, but worse, far worse, something impalpable—"
"Well?" they said.
"The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal men," said I; "and that is, in all its nakedness—'Fear!' Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms. It followed me through the corridor, it fought against me in the room—"
I stopped abruptly. There was an interval of silence. My hand went up to my bandages. "The candles went out one after another, and I fled—"
Then the man with the shade lifted his face sideways to see me and spoke.
"That is it," said he. "I knew that was it. A Power of Darkness. To put such a curse upon a home! It lurks there always. You can feel it even in the daytime, even of a bright summer's day, in the hangings, in the curtains, keeping behind you however you face about. In the dusk it creeps in the corridor and follows you, so that you dare not turn. It is even as you say. Fear itself is in that room. Black Fear... And there it will be... so long as this house of sin endures."

<<<<>>>> 

Captivating Opening Comp Winners!



This year’s contest was just as hot as last year’s, and it took some mighty rumination between Stef and bestselling author Russell Blake to arrive at the final three contenders.

One thing they both agreed on was the deserved outright winner – Lisa Souza – whose novel Beauty and the Bridesmaid is a paradigm of how to immerse the reader from the outset. As Russell observed: “I was placed within the story right from the first page.”

Beauty and the Bridesmaid is a darkly comic tale of transformation and choices, frenemies and friendships, the heroic saga of a nice woman who only wants to look in the mirror and feel beautiful, but may find the price higher than she bargained.

Worthy  joint runners up are Marilyn Chapman with Baggy Pants and Bootees
and Gerhard Gehrke with A Beginner’s Guide to Invading Earth.



Both authors receive a prize of a monthly “Set and Forget” tweet promo package from #1 book tweeters @TweetYourBooks and a bonus prize of inclusion in their bookstore for a whole year on TweetYourBooks.com – well done, guys!

And for those authors who didn’t quite make the final cut – we thank you for participating in this closely run contest and enjoyed many, many of your openings!

Stef's Captivating Opening Comp 2015



Thanks to all who took part in this fun competition - entries are now closed.

This year's competition was just as hotly contested as last year's and Stef has already shortlisted a number of captivating contenders.

And Stef would like to remind all unsuccessful entrants that his opinion is subjective (as is always the case) and with this in mind he is also seeking the opinion of bestselling author Russell Blake in the final selection process. Featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, and The Chicago Tribune, Russell Blake is The NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty-five novels.





Without a doubt, the most important component of a novel is its opening – for unless you get the reader immersed and on board from the get-go they will quickly move on to the next (free) preview available on book sites such as Amazon's. And this was the case even before the advent of electric publishing. In bookstores, readers absorb the blurb on the jacket, and then open the book and read the first few paragraphs before either opting to buy or putting it back on the shelf.

The 2014 competition revealed lots of exciting new and established authors and with this in mind Stef is re-staging this fun competition in 2015, the prize comprising a 3-month "Set and Forget" Twitter promotion package from our sister site TweetYourBooks.com (usu. $375) and also a special featured article on WriteIntoPrint.com, which attracts around 65,000 readers per month. In addition to this, your book cover and link to your sales page or website will be added to our sidebar for three months (usu. $297) and will also be included in TweetYourBooks.com's Bookstore – for a whole year!

Update Feb 21: Wow! the competition is hot already, with some strong contenders, so I will be awarding two other entries a prize of a 1-month "Set and Forget" promotion package.

The entry process is simple: In the comments field below, post the Book Title and Author name of your novel, or one you recommend, and Stef will read the opening, much like he would in a bookstore or when buying a novel from Amazon (by using their "click to look inside" facility). Also supply your Twitter username, if you have one. Previous entrants may apply. Just one book per author, please (Stef will only read the first one listed.) All genres are eligible.

There is no point in multiple posting, or even recommending one already entered, because the object is to get Stef to read the opening (this is not a vote-oriented competition). Closing date for submissions is 1st May 2015, the winner to be announced (here and on Twitter) in early May and featured on WriteIntoPrint.com in June. The "Set and Forget" monthly promotion package can be started any time during 2015, and will run for three months thereafter. For nominated entries, the prizes and adjudication are subject to the author's approval, of course.

The novel must be on Amazon Kindle to qualify.

Keep it simple in the comments field: just state the Book Title, Author Name, Twittername – Stef will ignore any blurb, including on Amazon, and will get straight to reading the opening in Amazon's preview.

DO NOT PASTE THE AMAZON LINK INTO THE COMMENTS OR WE WILL DELETE THE ENTRY

No correspondence will be entered into, so no daft questions, please...and please don't post your email in our comments field unless you love being spammed by third parties. Stef will either contact the winner direct via Twitter or invite the winner to contact us via our email address when the winner is announced by @TweetYourBooks and @WriteIntoPrint.

Good Luck!

Please Tweet and g+1 the competition below :-)


Click HERE to read about last year's winner: Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel.

TO VIEW ENTRIES: CLICK HERE TO OPEN THE COMMENTS FORM


Top Typo-busting Tips




Using “Find and Replace” in Word is a useful tool for identifying common typos and homophones and formatting nits. All writers have their “pet nits” and it advisable to keep a list of your own so that you can run a check for them before the final edit. It’s much easier to spot a particular typo by searching through the document than reading it as a proofreader (the brain has an auto-correct facility, which is why proofreading is so much more difficult than one imagines.)

To instigate a nit search in Word, press the F5 key on your keyboard to get the Find and Replace window up:



Type in the search word and keep pressing the “Find Next” button until you have searched the whole document. You can also type the correct spelling into the “Replace” field, which is very useful if you decide to change a character’s name, for example.

This may seem rather tedious but it's well worth the couple of hours it takes, particularly if you are unsure of a word spelling. For example, “baited breath” is wrong “bated breath” is right – so look up any spellings you are unsure of in a dictionary, then add them to your search.

Below is a common nit/homophone check list – followed by a couple of tricks for spotting missing periods and uppercase errors in he said/she said dialogue tags (He said is wrong because the sentence has yet to end) and also how to fix “Yes Sir.” etc. to “Yes, sir.” (notice the added address comma as well).

advice advise
affect effect
aid aide
alter altar
an and
ball *bawl (*cry or shout)
bare bear
base bass
bated baited
begun began
birth berth
born borne (usually born)
brake break
breath breathe
breech breach broach
cant can't
chose choose
clamor clamber (ed) (ing)
compliment complement (ary) (ed)
conflicting conflicted
cord chord
council counsel
course coarse
creak creek
currant current
decent descent
de rigor = de rigeur
desert dessert (it's just deserts, not just desserts)
discreet discrete (ly)
disinterested uninterested
dominate dominant
draft draught drought
dual duel
dye die
each other *one another (*more than two)
elicit illicit
elude allude
exited excited
fair fare fear (ed)
flair flare
forbid forbade
form from
forward *foreword (*introduction in a book)
four for fir fourth forth
hanger hangar
hoard horde
hurtled hurled
if of or
its it's
jam jamb
knight night
know known
lay lie laid
leach leech
led lead
lessen lesson
lets let's
lightning lightening
lose loose
main man mainly manly
meat meet mete
mined mind
miner minor
misled mislead
mother lode (not mother load or motherload)
nit knit
of off
pail pale (it's beyond the pale)
pair pear pare
palate pallet
past passed
peak peek
pedal peddle
pour pore poor
principle principal
profit prophet
queue cue
quit quite quiet
rack wrack (ed-ing) (nearly always rack)
rained reigned
raise raze
ran run rub
retch wretch
rode rose rise ride
roll role
safe-deposit box - not safety
sang sung
she he
shear sheer
sigh sign
site sight (and cite)
slight sleight
spilt split
stationery stationary
straight *strait (*narrow water channel or difficulty--usu. pl)
Styrofoam (insulation block) polystyrene (cup)
suite suit
team teem
the they
their there they're
then than that
though thought through tough
to too two
vain vein vane
*vise vice (*clamping device - U.S. usage)
wet whet (it's whet your appetite)
where were we're
who whom
who's whose
wrung rung rang
your you're

F5 searches: To find and replace hyphens for en dashes: type into the “Find” field: a space a hyphen and a space and type into the “Replace” field: a space, then select “en dash” from the “Special” menu and then type in another space. It is advisable to click through using the “Find Next” button and replace them as you go through rather than all at once. You can also type in a space then ^= then another space as can be seen in the picture below.



The same can be done to replace double hyphens, usually with an em dash: type in two hyphens in the “Find” field and select em dash in the “Replace” field (or type: ^+).

To find He said She said uppercase errors use the “Match case” checkbox as in the picture below *but remember to uncheck this box for other searches*.



Use “Match case” to find uppercase errors of the term “sir”, which should almost always be in lower case, Type in: Sir – at the same time check for missing address commas, which are common in short dialogue; e.g. “Yes, sir.” is correct, not “Yes sir.”

Missing periods at the end of paragraphs are common and hard to spot; in the "Find" field, select "Any Letter" and "Paragraph Mark" from the "Special" menu, or type in ^$^p and search for them using the "Find Next" button.

Missing periods and commas at the end of dialogue: We have to make two searches ("Find Next") to identify these. To find them in the middle of paragraphs, type:  ^$" and a space character into the "Find" field.

To find them at the end of paragraphs type: ^$"^p 

The former search will also identify quotation-type instances (e.g. John said I was "fussifying" things but I was just being careful) so care should be taken. These two searches will not work if you use single speech marks.

Missing spaces after commas and periods:

To find missing spaces after periods, type into "Find":  ^$.^$ (or Any Letter then a period then Any Letter if using the "Special" menu).

To find missing spaces after commas, type into "Find":  ^$,^$ (or Any Letter then a comma then Any Letter if using the "Special" menu).

Compound number nits are common (e.g. twenty three should read twenty-three) and the way to check for these is to type: twenty and then a space character in the "Find" field; this will make them easy to spot (follow up with thirty thru ninety).

Backwards speech marks after dialogue intervention en or em dashes are common because Word requires that the closing speech mark is added *before* the en/em dash is inserted: e.g.:


“Sorry, James, but–“


“Sorry, James, but

To find these for en dashes, type ^="^p into the "Find" field (or use the "Special" menu to select the en dash and paragraph mark) and for em dashes, type: ^="^p

Once we find and fix the first occurrence in the search (by adding the en/em dash *after* the closing speech mark) we can copy it (Ctrl and C) and paste it (Ctrl and V) over any following reversed speech marks that occur as we use the "Find Next" button to identify them.

For advanced users of Find/Replace there is a trick to do it globally:

First, check there are no # characters in the document, if not, type into the "Find" field either the en or em dash characters and a speech mark and a paragraph mark: ^="^p or ^+"^p and replace with: #"^p

We then select the "Replace All" option.

The next step is to replace all the # characters we just put in with an en/em dash: put a # character into the "Find" field and an en/em dash into the "Replace" field (^= or ^+)

We then select the "Replace All" option.

I hope this article is of use to you, and if you have any tips of your own please leave them in the Comments box (or any other common typos you are aware of).

To clean up formatting nits, please see our Eradicate Manuscript Nits article first, which will result in a more accurate search of all of the above, and also our Layout Tips article, which has a free Word template download that is Kindle/epub friendly.