Find and Replace

Ahh… technological devices designed to make our lives easier. When will I ever learn?

One of the comments from my first beta reader pointed out that I had a lot of extra spaces in the document, as well as some wonky apostrophes. (I blame the PC, as usual.) I hit Control F, plugged in the offending double space, then did a silly thing that would turn out to be my downfall: I selected ‘Replace All.’

*waits for everyone to stop rolling their eyes*

Yes, I’ve heard the horror stories. I KNOW you have to be careful when wielding the power of Replace All, yet I used it willy-nilly anyway.

Friday evening my mom began reading Flicker and around chapter 18 discovered a lot of words that had run together. I checked my THREE versions (after the backup fiasco I have a number of copies all over the place) and the errors were on my end as well. After going through the entire manuscript I determined that I’d somehow deleted quite a few em dashes–which I use a lot–and made a mess of my story. (My mom’s favorite was zoothe: zoo–the.)

I did this in the first draft too, but only encountered one goof. I changed a character’s name from Justin to Kirk, accidentally turning the word adjusting into adkirkg. D’oh!

Care to share your Find & Replace horror stories?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. After working on computer code for years, I’ve learned to avoid Search & Replace like the plague. I do love the new vocabulary you’ve inserted into the English language!

    Zoothe: A soothing place where animals are in cages for tourists to observe.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Mel!

    I haven’t done a ‘replace all’ on anything yet, but as I am writing my current WIP I’ll run across a misspelling of a certain character in the story and just shrug it off since I could “always do a ‘replace all’ during editing.” Now I know I’ll need to do it manually!

    Thanks again!

  3. Melanie's Mom

    One of my first experiences on a computer (about 27 years ago), I was revising a one-page contract with a medical director. In the model I had, the medical director was male, I wanted to change to female. So I looked at “his” and replaced all, changing to “her” — “this” became “ther,” so I replaced all, changing it back. Wrong! “There” became “Thise” and it got worse from there. Now I only use replace all with really big words or make sure to use the “whole words” function.

  4. I don’t like using find and replace all that often. A lot of times things that are designed to make things easier end up making things way too complicated. 😉

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  6. Editing an index covering many years of a publication, I wanted to standardize how all the entries (compiled by many people over many years) referred to poems. Many entries—but still a minority—listed the poem’s name and then the word “verse” in parentheses. I changed all the instances of the word “verse” to “poem.” I then thought I was smart and checked for the word “traverse” which now was “trapoem.” I fixed those. I looked for others by searching on the word “poem” throughout the index. But I learned that people get tired, even when we think we’re being careful. What slipped through? Someone’s middle name “Converse” appeared as “Conpoem.” And an article about a group going overseas now had in its title that the group “Goes Opoemas” instead of “Goes Overseas.”
    Never again! Never never never.

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