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Showing posts from August, 2019

The Futility of Relying Upon AI Grammar Checkers

As American schools have done a poorer and poorer job of educating students about the finer points of speaking, reading and writing the English language properly, correct grammar and spelling have gone the way of the dinosaurs. It’s relatively rare to meet a member of one of the younger generations who feels any assurance in their mastery of basic English. Of course, texting comes in for its share of the blame as well. If you can convey your meaning by typing the single character, “U,” why waste the time or energy required to tap out “you” on the tiny keys of your cell phone? However, what is tolerated or even welcomed in the world of texts, live chats, and gaming is still not acceptable in the hallowed halls of advanced academia. If you want to earn a college degree or have a prayer of achieving a Master’s or a Ph.D., you need to get your grammar and spelling on point. But is it practical to believe that students who’ve spent their lives misspelling words, using emojis instead

Do Writers Know Too Much To Enjoy Reading?

How many times do you stop and mentally edit another’s work while reading his or her books? I’ve concluded that knowing too much about the technical aspects of writing has diminished my enjoyment of the books I read. I’m not a grammar queen, but when I see a mistake or typo, I SEE IT, especially in someone else’s writing. I miss quite a few of my own. One thing I’ve noticed lately is head-hopping. POV switches are making a comeback―or maybe they’ve never gone away―but it’s driving me crazy. (Do not confuse head-hopping with omniscient POV .) This is happening with writers I’ve read before, both well-known and lesser-known. The writers of two books I’ve been reading lately have been guilty of head-hopping. Female comments, then she has an internal thought. Male comments, then he has an internal thought. There is no scene break to acknowledge the POV switch. It’s equivalent to watching (reading) a ping pong match. Photo: Pixabay When I first started writing, I knew nothing

Four Mistakes New Writers Make

In keeping with this month's theme of "new tricks" for writers, I decided I'd write a bit about how the Internet has changed things for those of us who ply our trade with words. Not that it is all that new for young writers who've grown up with the internet, but there are a few dinosaurs around, as Linda Lane mentioned in her post on August 12 . And there are writers in between the dinosaur stage and those who perhaps learned how to get on the Web before they learned to walk. More and more I've come to appreciate the fact that there are so many online resources for writers - from help with research, to help with craft, to help with marketing. When looking for some inspiration, as well as good advice, there are three websites and blogs that I visit often: Kristen Lamb's blog , Writer Unboxed , and The Writer. Each offers new information to help writers and most of the folks there are very generous about allowing other bloggers, like me today, to reuse

New #Writing Tricks & Tools — Or Old Ones Revisited

Ideally, we should all be computer-savvy, ready to conquer the newest app or upgrade or whatever with great gusto. Realistically, we aren't all computer whizzes. Some of us old folks (and a few younger ones) shudder at the prospect of interacting with yet another digital innovation that threatens to drive us back to the old, trusty Smith Corona. Yes, the manual typewriter was a pain in the backside because corrections and changes required retyping—sometimes many pages of retyping—but it was what it was, and we knew what to expect. What we could not expect was upgrades (except perhaps to the electrified version); nor could we expect internet access. Hmm. Progress has at least one pro to offset its cons for this senior citizen. Fast forward to today. Speaking only about myself, I am often overwhelmed by the constantly changing landscape of technology. About the time I think I understand something, it's updated to a bigger and better version, and I'm back to square

New (and Old) #Writing Tricks and Tools from PSWA

This month's theme is perfectly timed since I recently returned from the Public Safety Writers Association Conference (PSWA) in Las Vegas. In addition to meeting and hearing from police officers, PIs, firefighters, 9-1-1 dispatchers, hazmat responders, military personnel, a postal inspector, SWAT members, and more about their jobs and experiences, I participated in a panel titled "Perfecting Your Writing. " Thanks to my fellow panelists, I am able to provide a selection of #writing tricks and tools for your perusal. Below, you'll probably find something old , something new , definitely a lot borrowed , and a bit of blue . Without further ado... From Thonie Hevron SmartEdit is wonderful free software that takes some of the pain out of culling those oft-repeated words. You can pre-set your own filters. I always use this. Hemingway is a fee-based (free online and app is one-time $19.99 and well worth it) program that identifies confusing and complicated sentenc

New #Writing Tricks & Tools: Masterclasses with Writing Blueprints

In September of 2018, I wrote a post for this blog about Write for Kids and Writing Blueprints, a system of tutorials and worksheets to assist writers in mastering the various aspects of writing, editing, and getting published. That Resources for Writers post needs updating, because site master Laura Backes and her husband Jon have new blueprints by a variety of instructors. Visit the 2018 post for more information about how the program began and the manuscript revision/editing blueprint I explored. To bring you up to date, I was given access to a few of the newer offerings for review. First up is Mary Kole ’s Manuscript Submission Blueprint . Her bio from the website: Mary Kole has served as literary agent for Andrea Brown Literary Agency and as senior literary manager for Movable Type in New York. She is now a full-time book editor. She is the creator of Kidlit.com and author of Writing Irresistible Kidlit from Writer’s Digest Books. She has an MFA in creative writing from t

New #Writing Tricks & Tools: The Kindle Quality Dashboard

In addition to reviews, KDP and readers can also flag your book for typos and "quality issues." Kindle is now cracking down on poor quality ebooks, which can be both a gift and a curse. It can identify plagiarists, scammers, and cut and paste thieves. But I 've read posts on forums where writers complain that readers have unfairly flagged their books. The concern, of course, is trolls targeting authors with this new tool. Whatever the cause, if you find your book flagged you have the opportunity to fix it and to appeal. You should receive an email from KDP stating there are issues with a link to their eBook Quality Dashboard which will list the problems. You can also access the dashboard through your KDP bookshelf. Problems such as formatting errors, blurry images, duplicate content, typos, etc. are listed with hints on how to fix them. The book can also be flagged for " disappointing content " which KDP defines as:  • Content that is either markete