for the Writers

13 tools for editing your book

As I began editing my story, I asked a bunch of writers – either that I personally know or through Facebook writers groups – what tools they use when editing their book.

I was shocked that most didn’t have a plan or a tool…they just wing it!

I’m sure most of us would like a plan of attack. And so I give you:

Tools to edit your book

Best part: Most of these are free!

Disclaimer: I have not used most of these. This is what either other authors have recommended to me or I have found through extensive googling.  But they look great! Take what you can use and make your plan of attack. Less willy nilly…but don’t ditch the willy nilly….We all need that too 😉

 

1) Microsoft Word shortcuts – ❤ My favvie!

This writer was thoughtful enough to list out each step of her editing process and all the shortcuts or steps she takes in Word to find and fix these common errors. This is the most practical item I’ve found in my search. Use it!

2) 25 editing tips – checklist

Woohoo, I love checklists. I know where to start, what to do, and when I’m finished 🙂

3 & 4) Developmental edits – list of questions here or here

These are called checklists, but more like a list of questions to ask as you edit. Includes questions on plot, character, dialogue, style, etc. Very thorough, so if you want to catch every nuance, this is the list for you. I think I’d read my manuscript 50 times to catch all these questions haha 🙂

5) Proofreading checklist – PDF

I list editing software below, but you want to check things yourself too. For readability, grammar, punctuation, spelling – here’s that checklist.

6) Natural Reader – text to speech

Does not require download, just copy and paste your words into the website to hear your story read to you – a great way to catch errors you might accidentally gloss over if you read it silently. It’s bold claim is that it reads it in a “natural” voice, hence Natural Reader.

Also available as a free download to read from PDFs, Word, and offline.

Paid version with more features also available.

7) Readable – readability grades

Free, with premium paid version also available. Copy and paste text in, then see various grade levels on the right. Also notes adverbs, passive voice, cliches, and lengthy sentences and words.

8) Hemingway app – readability and editing

Copy and paste into the website to see grade level for readability, adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read passages. Best part: all these are color-coded 🙂 Note: in my brief test-run, spelling errors got the squiggly like Word, but punctuation errors weren’t mentioned.

9) Text Analyzer – see which words you over-use

Do you constantly say everything is “glorious” in your novel? I mean, it’s a glorious word, but you don’t want to over-use it. Copy and paste your text into this website to see which words and phrases are most common in your story. Obviously “the” and “and” and major character names will be prominent, but what else do you say that may be too much?

10) Ginger – editing software & text to speech

Just download it to your device. It’ll check spelling, grammar, and more. As far as I can tell, it’s free.

11) Grammarly – editing software

This is more popular than Ginger, at least in my circle. Whether that means it’s better or not, I can’t say. This is also a free software download.

 



*The below cost money but were recommended to me by other writers. You might want to check them out 🙂 *

12) ProWriting Aid – editing software

Free version for up to 500 words at a time. Annual cost of $40-45 if you want to edit more than that at a time.

13) EDITS System – lecture

Costs $22. Lets you know what you need to edit where.


Have any recommendations of your own? Comment below with what tools, tips, or tricks help you tackle book editing 🙂

 

for the Creatives, for the Writers, Musings of a Creative, My Creative Projects

Do You Have a Book in You?

If you’ve ever wondered if you could write a book, should write a book, or if you’ve dabbled with writing and wondered if it’s worth a shot to pursue it more seriously, I have news for you!

wCoyXynqpNHxPdnDWDtZmR

I have a new FREE online class to help you answer these questions:

–Do I really have a book in me?

–Can I write a book?

–What’s the process?

–Is this really something I want to take on?

–What am I taking on?

I’m give you a brief overview of the writing world and help you decide if and how you fit into that. This isn’t supposed to be the end-all-be-all decision-maker, but I hope it gets you going in the right direction, whatever that may look like.

This free course has approximately 30 minutes of online material that you can go through at your own pace. After this course, you will have a more firm grasp of what you’re getting into when you sign up to become an author.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now here 🙂

Blog Signature - Crisper

Musings of a Creative

Strangers: A Secret Society

Who hasn’t wanted to be part of a secret society?
I’m a writer and educator, specifically for high schoolers. I can’t do that alone. I need teenagers on the inside. I’ve created a facebook group to talk about weird writerly, readerly, teacherly, or weirderly things. I ask questions, my secret society of teenagers answer. Also includes exclusive material on my story and writing tips.

 

Are you a teenager who’d want to participate? Know a teenager that’s into stories (whether reading, writing, telling, or watching)? Join my secret society….message me! Vacancies currently open.

 

for the Bookworms, for the Writers

Why “American Sniper” Couldn’t Hold My Interest

I may have been the only person who found “American Sniper” to be the most yawn-inducing movie of the year century decade quite awhile.

“But that’s unpatriotic!….’American Sniper’ is a hero that should be taught in every high school history class!” I know, I know, my mom told me. And I don’t have a problem with the guy or the theme or my country or anything extreme like that. I have a problem with the film….that’s it.

MV5BMTkxNzI3ODI4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjkwMjY4MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_

Caveat: I don’t generally enjoy this genre of film.

That being said, this was still worse than all most the others in the genre. I’d say “it’s bad when the only part I like is the two minutes I see Jesse from Glee,” except really that would probably be a whole bunch of movies if he would just show up in more movies, please! So anyhow, that maybe isn’t a good example of how bored I was.

Here’s why “American Sniper” failed to grab my interest:

Stories Need Structure

Your main character starts out with an internal or external goal – something they really want. And stakes – something they’ll lose if they don’t get it. And an obstacle – villain, per se – something that’s in the way of achieving their goal. The entire story from there is the character overcoming the obstacle to either achieve (or NOT achieve) their goal.

Veer from that very basic structure and it’s really difficult to hold an audience’s attention.

This story didn’t start with a clear goal – Chris Kyle was just living his life and ended up joining the military due to girlfriend troubles and shocking national news. Then everything from that point is the different battles he fights.

Maybe you say “His external goal is catching Mustafa.” Sure, in the background is this elusive bad guy he needs to get, but the majority of the loooooong story has nothing to do with him progressing towards or falling away from catching Mustafa – he’s just brought up every so often of “Oh yeah, and this guy we want to catch still.” So there’s a whole lot of “fluff” if that’s the story’s goal.

Maybe you say “His internal goal is to live a fulfilling life despite the trauma of war.” Sure, I can go with that. The PTSD and figuring out ways to cope and deal – that’s rough. And add in the family dynamics and reverse culture shock – it’s crazy difficult. But once again, there’s so much that doesn’t add to that storyline either.

Overall, it ended up being a mod-podge of life events. That’s kinda how telling a person’s life works, except quality writing finds a way to mash it all into a story structure. And I personally didn’t think this cut it – I couldn’t figure out the POINT of the story long enough to care about any of the events.

What do you think?

Am I way out of line?

Am I just reading this story wrong since I dislike the genre? (I’ve been wondering….people who like this genre, what’d YOU think?)

Is there anyone who felt the same way watching the movie? Pipe up, I’m feeling alone in this 🙂

My Creative Projects, Stories to Read Right Now

Turn the White Snow: A “White Winter Hymnal” Story

Like many this year, I was introduced to the Pentatonix version of “White Winter Hymnal.” I fell in love with the song and wondered about the story behind it.

 

 

What had happened to Michael? Why was everyone wearing red scarves? After much googling around, I found out the original version was by Fleet Foxes, and was excited to know it hadn’t come from an already-existing story….I decided to create my own 🙂 Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Turn the White Snow

I was following Michael to the schoolyard, sludging through the snow. Little Mary trailed behind when she fell on a patch of ice. It wasn’t too big of a spill, ‘cept her red scarf shuffled to the side and she gasped, froze. “Mary,” I teased, “keep careful or you’ll lose your head.” I knotted the scarf ‘round her neck one more time to calm her. She beamed up at me, and I returned a reassuring smile. The extra knot was all it took for her to sprint ahead of us, though our legs were much longer to catch up.

The schoolyard was covered in packed snow, but Michael took the side route with hills that splashed with powder from less traffic. All the students were bundled up in line for class. We took our spaces in line too, and Michael and I followed our pack to one side of the yard while Mary’s took the other. She was carefree now with that extra knot; she could leap and bound and – well sit still for the lecture as she was told – without a care in the world since her sister had given her that extra security. I reached up to check my own knot in the meantime, tight and unyielding.

Silly superstition, really. Some braver kids, like Michael, would just wrap the scarves haphazardly ‘round their throats of course, but mother was always cautious to check that our scarves were knotted, and sure enough Mary and I were of the more timid type of student that instinctively grabbed it in any bout of uncertainty.

Michael was the daredevil – always finding the highest pile of snow to slide down, always questioning the superstitions, always telling some outlandish tale. The other day he had told me that the ground used to be brown like the logs for our fire, and the brown ground would grow food called strawberries as red as our scarves, and even more colors we had never seen before. Silly notions he came up with from listening to the loons, yet still he dreamed of proving it one day. That was Michael, always wanting to make some life-altering discovery – though he said convincing me would be an acceptable alternative.

Now that I was certain my scarf was secure, I quickly tugged on my hat as well. All the other people were the same, only worried about scarves for security, but I was the odd one who had to check my hat as well. Probably most of the reason Michael kept me around, because I was an enigma. Everyone else’s hair was white like the snow or brown like the coats that swallowed us, but mine was orange as the fire. People didn’t know what to think of that, not with the regimen of structure we all lived under. Though most knew I had wild hair from seeing the tufts peep out at the least opportune moment, I still tried to keep it under the hat at all costs.

Today’s lecturer spoke on the scarves – they always do. Red to stand out above all else, for everyone to take notice and honor the life it allows us to live. A life of continuity, of conformity, going from one task to the next in the pack, never side-stepping, never turning. Just as the snow fell from the sky to hold us up, we in turn reach for the sky it lifts us toward – ever close to the white snow, ever closer to the whitest sun. When the scarf was tied on a newborn, the traditionalists would say, “a scarf of red tied ‘round your throat, to keep your head from falling to snow.” The scarf held our society together, maintained the structure, the uniformity of the pack in growing higher towards the sun. The ditty at every birth reminded us of that. I was just old enough at Mary’s birth to remember, and I felt as proud and tall as ever to be a part of something so grand.

When the lecture ended, it was time for recess, and Michael bolted. I trailed behind him, joining the pack of kids in a snowball fight. The lecturer’s eye was following our movements while we scooped from the hills of snow and slammed it into the bundled pack of scurrying kids. We all danced carelessly through each other’s footsteps while Michael raced to the top of a hill and howled like a wolf in triumph. We watched him pile the snow in a ball as large as our coats and roll it down the hill toward us. Trying to beat his own game, Michael jumped in front of the giant pile. We couldn’t scatter, and we waited for the student in front as we leapt away from the rolling mound.

That’s when the wind burst strong and my hair loosened – I felt it kissing my face like the snow as it fell, and I instinctively turned ‘round to keep the others from seeing me adjust my hat. There was Michael right behind me, waiting, simultaneously admiring my bright fiery hair and grieving that I felt compelled to always cover it.

But the snow was still racing for us, and he was still blocking its path. The same darned gust of wind – as if it were meant to curse the lot of us – tugged at his loose scarf as the snow pile slammed into him. Michael had lost his own game. He caught himself barely, but the scarf lightly drifted to the ground and we soon realized the mistake. His head toppled and landed on the ground and his feet gave way. Liquid as red as our scarves poured out of him, turning the white snow red.

The students were only now turning in unison to see the scarf drifting along by the wind, away from the red snow and the white face that lay in it. The lecturers approached and guided the students away. But they had seen me turn, and I was in trouble I knew.

Michael’s body was taken away for a proper burial, swallowed in the icy sea. A lecturer gave me white bags, and lots of them, to swallow the red snow ’til the incident never happened. My shovel dug deep, ever finding more red snow, until it hit hard bottom. I scooped the snow away and there – I saw brown. Neither a fire log nor a coat, but some ungiving ground of brown. My fingernails scraped it, memorized its texture, and I wondered what strawberries were like.

I tried telling the lecturers, but they brushed it away. The next day someone had covered the brown with snow, so I had no proof. I knew the other kids would laugh, but I told Mary and she gave me a hesitated smile.

“Of course she’d believe his superstitions, trying to revive his memory after such a tragic event.” I heard it whispered by my parents, the lecturers, the doctors they sent me to. No one would believe me, the girl with the wild hair and wild friend and wild stories. But I knew what I saw was true, and every night I would crawl between my brown covers, pull out the little white bag I’d saved, and pinch the red snow, imagining he had finally made strawberries.

If you enjoyed this, check out the Fleet Foxes version of the song as well.

 

 

And if you’re a writer, I’d love to hear your version of the tale! Please share!

Musings of a Creative

WIP: The Soundtrack of Unfixed

Movies aren’t the only story medium with soundtracks. More books are having official or unofficial soundtracks. Authors and readers alike compile songs that go with the story.

Sometimes there’s one song, sometimes multiple. Sometimes for different scenes, sometimes for different characters.

Many authors need to listen to music while writing – sometimes this is just music in general, but sometimes the author finds a specific song to fit the mood of the section they’re writing.

There’s no doubt about it, music inspires story. In fact, art inspires art – no matter the medium. Books, movie, visual art, dance, music. They all bring inspiration for the others.

I don’t always write to music, but I do frequently hear a song and think of how it fits with my story.

If my protagonist, Julia Trencher, were a singer, I’m sure she would have sung this song. “Human” by Christina Perri.

 

What About You?

If you’re a writer, what songs have inspired your writing? If you’re a reader, what songs remind you of a favorite story? How does music play into story for you? Do any of your favorite books have a soundtrack?

for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

Book Review: The Furies by Natalie Haynes

I am so grateful to have received this book through FirstReads. I gave this three out of five stars – BUT I highly recommend it for the right person.

Who is the “Right” Person?

I favor plot-driven stories – the more complex the plot, the more twists and turns, the more I’m drawn to the story. This book is not that – if you’re expecting it to build to some climactic unexpected ending, that is not the case. This is a wonderfully written character-driven novel – you’ll have much of the plot figured out as you go and just be interested in how it happens and why it happens. For this reason, I did really enjoy this book. So if you enjoy slow builds and exploration of characters, Natalie Haynes does this so well that you can’t put the book down.

 

What It’s About

The Furies by Natalie Haynes is about a drama teacher in a “last-chance” school, and the consequences of discussing Greek tragedy. I know some reviewers weren’t big on the book because of believability – the teacher should have never got the job “just cause” she had connections. Sure, I agree. But that wasn’t a point of the story, and it didn’t detract from the story I don’t think.

I loved the integration of mythology in the classroom environment – the literary side of me loved seeing students intrigued and engaging in the story in some fashion. I also think that the youth were not stereotyped one way or another, but were each unique and complex with believable backstory that provided room for both empathy and frustration at their behavior – like most real-life situations I imagine.

 

One of my favorite quotes:

“Like most ostensibly bad children, as Robert had long maintained, they didn’t want to be bad. They were keen to learn how to relate better to each other, to their families and friends. They wanted to be happier and less angry. They didn’t enjoy the tantrums they nonetheless felt compelled to throw so frequently. They could usually understand that just as they didn’t like being shouted and screamed at, other people didn’t either. And if they couldn’t always make the extra step from recognising that fact to acting on it, that didn’t make them desperately unusual, for teenagers.”

I feel like that quote is both a great philosophy on youth who act out, as well as a great debate waiting to happen between those who have experience with the youth and those who like to think they know what they’re talking about. So much controversy, but a beautiful way of framing the problem at least.