This is a post from two years ago about a handy computer tool that bears repeating, I think.
Microsoft Word's Comment feature is a hugely useful tool. You can insert an invisible note for yourself or someone else, such as an editor. When I was in an e-mail critique group, we used comments in our critiques, along with line editing with Track changes turned on. WordPerfect also offers a Comment tool.
I sometimes create a skeletal version of a scene that's not fully developed in my mind and use Comment to leave a note about thoughts for fleshing it out. Or maybe I've a description or action that I know needs work. In one of my novels I described a character as having a "pretty face." A critiquer noted that this was vague. When I came to that place in rewriting, I just wasn't ready to deal with finding other language, so it was easy to highlight the word "pretty" and add this little note and a thought-starter to myself:
"need better adjective/description
--fine-boned, delicate features…"
When I was good and ready, I took my time to do justice to the description.
The woman's face emerged
--oval shape, delicate features and big eyes like you see in fashion models.
For me, that's one of the best uses for comments
In his office, Gabe slams the few personal things he doesn't want to lose into his briefcase.
Later, when skimming through the chapter, I had a nagging sense that the conflict with his boss had ended too abruptly. I had a thought for expanding the scene, so I highlighted "In his office" and added this comment:
"consider having the boss follow him into the hallway and finishing the confrontation."
I went back later and created a much stronger scene. Here's the addition:
Gabe's not ten feet down the hallway before Lawrence's voice attacks from behind. "You hold on there!"
Gabe stops and turns. Lawrence advances on him, his face flushed, his movements stiff and tense. Gabe waits and watches.
Lawrence comes to a halt close enough for Gabe to smell the cigarette smoke in his breath. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
A weight lifts from his mind, and Gabe feels strong and free. "How about the right thing?"
Lawrence sucks in air as if Gabe had punched him in his flat belly. His face reddens even more. "You're one more word from being out of a job."
Out of a job. But this job, with Lawrence fouling his work and pulling on a leash, will be hell. Gabe's been here before, suffering the daily insult and pain of working for a lesser man. Last time it cost him lots of sleep and the beginnings of an ulcer. He'd vowed to never suffer fools again.
"Lawrence, don't you have some ass-kissing to do? I think the client's going to need a long, deep pucker if you want to keep him happy."
Like a fish, complete with glassy eyes, Lawrence opens and shuts his mouth a couple of times. Then he spins and hurries back to the conference room. Gabe heads for his office, a flush of victory humming through him.
How to add comments
There are different ways to add a comment. In Word 2000 and earlier
iterations, you highlight something where you want the comment to be,
click Insert in the top menu, then click on Comment. A box will appear,
you enter your note, then click Close. The comment becomes invisible
until you want to see it, but yellow highlighting remains to show you
where it is. NOTE: you can insert a comment without highlighting
anything, but I wouldn't
In Word 2002/XP, you insert comments in the same ways. A comment
balloon appears into which you can type your comment. Annoyingly (to
me), the balloon stays there. To make it go away, go to View and click
on Markup. Unfortunately, to my way of thinking, these versions of Word
leave no highlighting to tell you where the comment is
There's also an add-a-comment icon that you can put in your toolbar that makes it quick and easy to add a comment. Here's how: click Tools in the top menu bar. Click Customize. Click on the Commands tab. Click the Insert icon in the list that appears, then scroll down until the yellow Comment icon appears. Put your cursor over the icon graphic, press the left mouse key down and hold it. You can then "drag" the icon up to your toolbar. A marker will appear where it will be, and you can move the cursor to find the right spot. Then release the mouse key and the icon will appear in your toolbar. It should stay there, though in Word for the Mac, I've never figured out how to make it permanent.
There are two ways in Word 2000 and earlier to view Comment notes. My preference is to place my cursor over the yellow highlight, which causes the comment to appear in a pop-up box. Move the cursor away, it goes away. Right-click your mouse (click the right key if you have a 2-key mouse) and you get a menu that will let you edit or delete the comment.
An alternative way to view a Comment is to click View on the top menu in Word. Then click Comments, and a window will appear with all the comments in them. You can scroll to get to the area you want to see. This is a handy way to review all of the reminders you've left in order to see what needs to be done.
In Word 2002/XP, click View and then Markup to see comments. To make them go away, return to View and click Markup.
In WordPerfect, to insert a comment click on Insert in the top menu bar, move your cursor to Comment, and click on Insert in the pop-up menu. To close the window that opens you have to click the X in the upper right corner. You can also navigate back and forth between your document and comment with Window on the main menu bar.
WordPerfect adds small "word balloons" to the left margin of your document to indicate the presence of a comment. Click on the work balloon to read the comment. Right-click on the comment to edit or delete it.
If you have other ways you put comments to work, please let me know and I'll pass them on.
For what it's worth,
Free edit. Email a sample for an edit that I can post here.
© 2006 Ray Rhamey