Don’t Always Listen to Spell Check

How many times have you typed a word like “melons” but really meant “lemons”?  To the spell checker, both are words.  So what’s wrong?

The problem is that spell check does not read as humans do. Depending on what the sentence is about, the incorrect word could make it confusing.  For example, how many people heard of turning melons into lemonade?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Having someone to proofread is generally a good idea, but even humans miss stuff.  So what’s a writer to do?

Ruminated Scrawlings

Spellcheck has the tendency to lead you astray when you are writing anything on a word processor program such as Microsoft Word. It may tell you to put a comma where a comma doesn’t belong, remind you about how bad you are at spelling because it keeps giving you the wrong word no matter how many times you rewrite the word, and it always asks you to remove a word that is obviously there for effect.

Spell checkers and by extension grammar checkers work on an algorithm which uses grammar rules, and a dictionary which contains all the common words in the English language. The problem is that when you are writing a story you sometimes need to ignore grammar rules or spelling, or you have made up words or words from other languages which the spell checker cannot detect. It’s hard writing fantasy when you see red squiggly lines all over…

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11 Steps for #Writing the Perfect Scene

Ever have a great scene in your head, but when you write it all down, it seems flat?  I’ve certainly been there.  It can be frustrating to visualize everything, and even come up with a bunch of eloquent words that do absolutely nothing for the story.

A writer can show and tell all they want.  But when a story feels dull, chances are the book will be placed on a shelf or table to collect dust.  I certainly don’t want that.  So I enlisted the trusty assistance of Google to help me figure out how to improve my scene.

Lucky enough, I found Continue reading “11 Steps for #Writing the Perfect Scene”

The #Editing Style #Guide

Self-editing involves a lot more than correcting misspelled words or starting consecutive paragraphs with the same letter. A.C. Wyatt shares her observations on passive vs active voice, wordy sentences, and verb/subject agreement.  Knowing how to edit these, and other tips revealed, can improve the quality of the story.

Nerdy & Wordy

Look, editing is hard. I’ve said it many, many times. When you’re starting, it can be incredibly confusing. One person tells you to do this, and another tells you oh God no. Do this. Do that. It’s hard. I can’t tell you what’s right for your story, but as far as I can tell, there are a couple basic things you need to know.

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Should You Self-Publish or Traditionally #Publish?

A.G. Young shares great questions and points to ponder for deciding a publishing route. Will you go the old-fashioned way or strike out on your own?

Photo: hartlandmartin Park Road via photopin (license)

A Writer's Path

Doors

by A.G. Young

So today we’re talking about if you should Self Publish or Traditionally Publish that baby you have been working on for months or years. This of course is no easy question to answer, and also very highly personal to each writer. So I am going to discuss my opinion on the matter. And a little forewarning, because of the topic of this post, this is going to be a long one.

Before you can answer this main question, you must answer a few others first. Let’s see what those are.

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#EDITING 101: 22 – Using Registered #Trademarks and #Brand Names…

In our everyday lives we use certain words as common speech, and think nothing about trademark or branding. However, when writing fiction, the complex of using these words can be a financial and legal matter. Sometimes sticking to general terms is the safest bet.

Image: Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.

Courtesy of Adirondack Editing

Using Registered Trademarks and Brand Names

When you’re writing and your character uses a Kleenex, you’ve just used a registered trademark. Normally in non-fiction or business writing, you’d see it this way: Kleenex® or Kleenex™. To avoid using a brand name, you could say your character used a “tissue.”

You do not have to use ® or ™ in fiction writing.

The words aspirin, escalator, phillips-head screw, zipper, yo-yo, and vaseline were once trademarked but have lost that protection. They acquired such market dominance that the brand names became genericized. Companies want their products to become popular—but not too popular!—since there’s a price to pay for that popularity.

Kleenex®, Xerox®, Band-Aid®, and Plexiglas® were once in danger of losing their trademark…

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My creative process: writing the first #draft

My creative process seems random.  Either I’m awaken in the middle of the night with an idea, a dream sparks a story, or I’m driving along and a concept hits me in the face. Whatever the means, I write down the first things that flood my mind.  Then I go into planning mode to outline the story.

Once the outline is complete, I research the characters, locations, and any other relevant details.  For instance, I’ve Googled houses so that I could best describe the home of one of my characters.  Or if the character lives in a city or state I’m not familiar, I’ll look into the culture and atmosphere so that the story is authentic.

With the outline and research, the magic can begin.  I take a chapter at a time which is about 2000-3000 words (give or take).  I let my mind flow according to the summation listed in the outline.  Then I comb over it for adverbs and to be verbs, sentence rhythm, and sensory detail to add depth.  So I guess in a way I’m doing a first and second draft in one setting. 😉

Photos: Takeshi Obata, Carla Oliverira, Ida Auclond

Ida Auclond

01-obata-int-splshBakuman illustration by Takeshi Obata

Learning about people’s creative process or “watching them create” is one of my favourite things. I’ve spent hours watching  YouTube videos of Takeshi Obata just drawing (he’s the mangaka who drew Hikaru no Go, Death Note and Bakuman, among other things). So I thought today I’d talk about my own creative process, because it’s fun to share and because maybe next year or in two or three years I’ll look back to this post and be amazed at how much my process has changed. Or not.

The idea

It all starts with an idea. It can come from vastly different things: a passer-by can sprout a character, a feeling can become a theme, etc. You have ideas, you know what I mean.

The daydream

There is a kind of natural selections in my ideas. I almost don’t consciously “choose” which one I’ll pursue, I…

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#Novel Planning Part II: Different Ways to #Plan a Novel

Just like Juliana Rose, many writers (including myself) attempt to find ways to better organize their story ideas.  When I started my first novel, my method of planning was pantsing. I figured I could take the story as it popped out in my head and everything would turn out great.

Wrong!

I completed the first draft, which was a wonderful accomplishment, but editing was a nightmare (one of the reasons I shelved it). For example, I’d referenced events and people late in the story without mentioning them earlier. A reader would definitely be confused. Plus it’s harder to keep track of all the details without noting them somewhere or rereading tons of pages.

So I decided to roll with a modified outline as my planning method. Instead of bullet points and lists, I write Chapter 1 and place a check box in front of it.  Then I create a summation of the chapter.  Usually 2 or 3 sentences, but could be a fuller paragraph. Below is an example.

[X] Chapter 1 – Mary, a shepherd’s daughter, becomes attached to one of the lambs in her father’s flock. She’s the only one who can make his wool as white as snow.  Because of this, Mary is approached by a laundry detergent company to appear in ads. While Mary is excited about the opportunity, she fears leaving her country roots behind.

[ ] Chapter 2 – Mary talks to her father about the job. He encourages her to go for it.

[ ] Chapter 3 – Mary does the commercial, but the lamb won’t cooperate. They are at odds because she is fired.

As I complete each chapter, I check it off and move on to the next. Using this method helps me with plot holes, ensuring story flow, and helps with tasks like book blurbs, etc. It’s also a good way to make sure you meet the goal of the chapter.

Photo: bluestar_tam Frantic writing via photopin (license)

Juliana Rose

Planning Plans

Before you plan, you have to make a plan for planning. Whew.

I’m going to be honest: none of these have worked well for me. In my next post I’ll explain what I actually do, but I want to talk briefly about these planning methods because everybody’s different, and maybe for you they’re just the thing.

The snowball method: Basically you start off with a good, one-sentence summary of what your novel is about. Then you expand it into a paragraph, then two paragraphs, and you get the idea.

Why it doesn’t work for me: I need things in order. This is less about planning, and more about writing and getting started. This method doesn’t have enough planning for me, and I have the problem of tying my own plot in knots and getting stuck without knowing where to go. Basically, with this method I still feel like…

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