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The Write Software: Editing

Oh No! I said it! Editing Software! Editing Software! Editing Software! Okay, I’m done being silly. Seriously though this list is in no way a guide to replacing a professional or human editor. These are just a few ways to help catch basic errors and possibly save a few bucks in the editing process.

Free Software

Hemingway Editor– I personally haven’t tried it but many of my writing peers enjoy this program immensely. It’s not as flashy as Grammarly, but it does have a desktop app.

Basic layout but functional

Grammarly– Yes, I know that Grammarly offers a paid subscription to access their full features, but if you write short stories and don’t mind using a web browser to edit your work, the free version is just fine.

Fancy layout but similar features as Hemingway

Paid Software

Grammarly Premium

I have a premium subscription and “I put that ish on everythang!”. No, seriously. I have the keyboard on my phone, the add-in for MS Word, my browser, and email. When you are supposed to be a professional writer, you can’t let them catch you slippin’ in these streets.

Pricing
  • Monthly Subscription $29.95/month
  • Quarterly Subscription $19.95/month billed as one payment of $59.95
  • Annual Subscription $11.95/month billed as one payment of$139.95

For a detailed review and a 20% discount on the premium version, check out Grammarly Review 2019 by Brian Collins on becomeawritertoday.com

Fictionary

Photo from https://prowritingaid.com

Fictionary is meant to be an extra editing layer between your self-edits and a professional editor. I found it to be a little cumbersome with a slight learning curve even after watching the provided tutorials. Otherwise it’s the only program I know where you are actually editing for content and not just line editing.

The best feature: Being able to see your plot points in graph form.

The worst feature: Only able to work on one project at a time.

Pricing
  • Offers a 14 day free trial no credit card needed
  • Monthly Subscription $20
  • Annual Subscription $200

For a detailed review of Fictionary Click Here

AutoCrit

Biggest Claim to fame is being able to compare your work to Best Sellers in your genre.

Best Feature: Whatever algorithms they use, it actually works! I got lots of positive feedback from my beta readers and editor after submitting a short story I put through the program.

Worst Features*: It’s a web-based app so not good if you have slow internet or a computer with not enough functional memory. I have issues with it lagging or freezing up when working with larger documents (close to their 50K max word suggestion). Also no reliable autosave, have to manually save before switching tabs otherwise your editing progress will be lost.

Pricing
  • Basic Plan $10/month No comparison feature and limited to 1000 words at a time
  • Professional Plan $30/month Comparison Feature, genre preference, customized report
  • Elite Plan $80/month adds an author spotlight and writing courses to the Professional Plan
  • Deals on Membership: 14-day Trial for $1 if you sign up for the professional or Elite plan. NaNoWriMo 2018 deal $45 for three months (what I am currently using)

Check out this article by TechRadar for a detailed review

*Update 5/20/2019: I can’t honestly recommend AutoCrit as I had a terrible customer service experience with the billing department. Was over charged several times despite paying for several months in advance. I was refunded but cancelled my subscription because I rather not have to worry about random funds being pulled from my accounts.

WhiteSmoke Writing Assistant

WhiteSmoke is another option that I have just started playing with. I haven’t used it much but it seems to be comparable to Grammarly and Hemmingway just without the fancy platform.

Features

  • Online, mobile, and computer based software
  • Grammar checker
  • plagiarism checker
  • Translator
  • Tiered Subscription Plan

Pricing

  • Essential (online only) $8.33/month billed as $49.95 for the year
  • Premium (online and software download) $13.33/month billed as $79.99 for the year
  • Business (online and software up to three computers) $22.99/month billed as $137.94 for the year

Mobile App can be included with each for an additional $1

So that’s it for the editing software that I am aware of. If there are any others you use or have heard of feel free to put it in the comment section below!

The Write Software: Writing

Word Processing

With so many different writing apps to choose from it can be hard to know which ones are the best. No two writers are the same and that makes it even harder to find which ones will work best for you. I will give a brief description of the various apps I have tried as well as price comparison.

I have not been compensated in any way by the companies or program creators mentioned and all opinions expressed are my own.

The key part of writing is writing!

So what better place to start than with word processors. There are several different types of word processors. The three different types I will go over include computer-based, web-based, and writer-specific.

Microsoft Word- Probably the most well known, it’s the gold standard of word processors. It’s both computer-based and web-based but nowadays costs a pretty penny unless you are lucky and have a free or discounted account from your day job or school.

With the push to get people to buy into Office 365 unless you want to purchase from a different retailer or chase down a free/pirated version of MS Word, buying the program outright is upwards of $300 and the monthly subscription is $9.99 a month or $99.99 for the year.

I use Word 2013 since that is when I last upgraded my laptop and there was a Black Friday deal that made it worthwhile to buy it at the time. I mostly use MS Word because I am comfortable with its layout and functions. I write individual scenes here and make use of add-ins for my initial editing and ebook formatting, but more on those later in the series.

Google Docs– Best part of Google Docs, it’s FREE! You also don’t have to worry about having access to your files when on the go since documents get saved to the Google Drive Cloud aka a web-based application.

Google Docs is great for writers who like to write on their phone, tablet, or don’s have regular access to a computer. Also, those who work co-write with others since all updates are kept in the same place no matter which authorized user works on the draft.

The layout is comparable to MS Word, but I don’t like working in Google Docs. The feel isn’t quite the same for me, and I am one of those people paranoid about cloud storage of my precious work.

Not down for paying a premium but don’t want a web-based service?

Open/Libre Office– For those of you already familiar with these programs don’t jump on me for lumping them together. In my experience, Apache’s Open Office and Mozilla’s Libre Office are basically the same thing. A free computer-based open source word processing program. If you want more of a comparison between the two programs, check out How to Geek’s Comparison.

Want a program more tailored to the needs of creative writers?

Scrivener– Available for Windows, Mac, and iOS, Literature and Latte blessed the literary world with this one. Part word processor, part formatting app, it’s my go-to app for organizing my word vomit into a cohesive novel for publishing. There is a bit of a learning curve, it’s computer/device-based, and it’s not a free program. If you can afford the $45 regular price or $38.25 for students and academics, I highly recommend it!

I love having the ability to see my work outlined in different ways. It streamlines my content editing and story flow process immensely. One of the main features I use is their compile feature which allows me to take my work from outline to formatted manuscript, text file, paperback, ebook etc…

I cannot express how much this one writing app has changed my writing process for the better.

More Word processors specific to creative writing that I have absolutely no experience with, but are worth checking out:

Storyist– Mac and iOS Only. $59 for new users and $39 to upgrade from an older version. Like I stated earlier, I am not an Apple Product person, but I have heard rave reviews from people who do use it.

Ulysses– Mac and iOS Only. Subscription based, $4.99/month or $39.99/yr US price.

Novlr- Web-based subscription, $10/month or $100/annual

Dabble– Computer-based software with a $10/monthly or $100/annual subscription.

No matter what your preference there is sure to be a word processor out there that will suit your writing style. Don’t be afraid to give the ones I’ve mentioned a try. If you have your own feedback to add to mine or other programs you use feel free to drop some knowledge in the comment section.

The Write Process: Alphas and Betas

I know in my Rules for writing a first draft I stated “not to talk about write club” but that was just for the initial output of ideas. Now that your draft is completed and you’ve given it cursory scrub in the first edit, it’s time to share the wealth. I am not talking about hitting the publish button just yet. Your draft is still just that a draft and it will go through several more drafts before it’s done. This is where alpha readers, beta readers, and professional editors come in.

Alpha Readers

These are the first people to lay eyes on your work. Their critiques can help you find the holes in your plot that you hadn’t noticed before. Tell you if your characters are relatable and give you input on how marketable your story may be. These are all good insights to have before shipping your work off to the editor or pitching your manuscript to an agent or publishing company.

Beta Readers

Betas are your final scrub team. They can also be the same group you used as Alpha readers or a completely different set of people all together. Beta readers will give you many of the same insights as Alpha readers but since they will have your completed and formatted work at their disposal they can also check for formatting errors and anything else missed in previous rounds of polishing. Most Beta Readers will also gladly provide reviews for your books in exchange for the opportunity to read your story before its published.

Where to Find Your Crew

The best place to find Alpha’s and Betas is within your own writing circle. People within your local writing group, other writer friends.

Family members you can trust to give honest feedback. I myself use my sisters and sometime even my mom to help me with my drafts. I am lucky in that they all are avid readers of the genre I write and really don’t care about hurting my feelings if they feel the story isn’t up to par.

I have also used writers groups online. Simply asking for people who would be interested in being a beta reader, although this approach is hit or miss. Out of the ten that said they were interested, only five provided emails to receive my work and out of those five only two actually provided feedback. One I traded critiques with but none were repeat customers.

By far the best experience I had online with finding critiques online was using the writer’s community of Scribophile. The site is a critique for critique format and while it takes work to get a good community, it’s definitely worth it in my opinion.

Check out Scribophile Here

The Write Process: Wait

I know what you are thinking, wait? You found the perfect idea, crafted an amazing outline, and bust out that first draft like a boss. You are immensely excited about your work and want to push it to the finish line! That’s great but now you need to take a step back.

You might be tempted to jump into editing your masterpiece, but taking the time away will give you a fresh set of eyes. You will come back to your draft able to see more small errors and plot holes when you are less familiar with the piece.

I’m not asking you to wait a super long time. Give yourself a week to rest and mull over exactly what you want out of your completed manuscript. I like to read a book or binge on all the shows I missed while fussing over the start of my work. Then when I am fuzzy on the details, I get back to work.

So wait! Maybe check out and Subscribe to the Serpentine Creative Channel on Youtube. Then check back here next week for the first steps in the editing process.

The Write Process: First Draft

This article is going to be a little more pep talk than informative. Writing the first draft is a significant accomplishment for any writer. It’s the first chance to see where that idea in your head is going to go. Even if you have outlined your story to death, surprises are sure to come when you finally put pen to paper.

Here is a list of “rules” I use to get my first draft completed with as little hair pulling and head bashing as possible.

Rule 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff

The first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect. Don’t fret if not all your characters have the perfect names or one scene doesn’t quite fit the way you hoped.

Rule 2: Don’t Edit

If you are anything like me, you may be tempted to polish that paragraph a bit. Fix those spelling errors and minor grammar issues as you go. Don’t do it. Not only will it slow the writing process but how will you know if your paragraph makes since there if you don’t have completed work.

Rule 3: Don’t talk about Write Club

It may be super tempting to discuss your cool ideas with friends, family, and fellow writers. While it’s not always bad to bounce ideas off people when you get stuck on something, it can also lead to second-guessing your plan.

Rule 4: Deadlines are suggestions

Unless you have a publisher breathing down your neck, take your time. Getting the first draft done is arguably the best part of the writing process. The time when your imagination should be able to roam free and mingle with your excitement to write. Take your time and smell the pages.

Rule 5: Just write!

You can’t have a first draft if you never write it in the first place. Writing is hardly the best time and best place sort of activity. Get your words in whenever you can and don’t be afraid to mix things up to help you get in the writing groove.

Now that you know the “rules” for completing your first draft, it’s time to get writing!

What’s in a name?

A pen name, pseudonym, nome de plume, or literary double is an assumed name used by a writer instead of their real or legal name.

Reasons to use a Pen Name

Writing in Multiple Genres – The most common use of pen names today is by established authors who don’t want to aggravate their base readership by producing novels outside their established genre. Examples include Nora Roberts who uses JD Robb to pen her suspense novels and Jessica Byrd who changed her name to JR Ward to publish her highly successful dark suspense The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Switching Publishers– Perhaps you have an exclusivity deal with a publisher under your current name, but you have a project they aren’t as excited to publish as you are. Using a pen name would allow you to take that work to another publisher or even self-publish.

Anonymity– Maybe you just want some privacy or a strict separation between your personal and professional life. Much like in the past, many authors have day jobs or positions within their community that would be negatively impacted by their choice of writing. There have been several cases in the news about teachers who were fired or shut out of their community because it was found they wrote erotica or dark romance.

Name too common or complicated– Becoming an author has been made easier than ever with the rise of free self-publishing platforms. Standing out amongst the millions is even harder if you have a common name like John Smith or Mary Johnson. In this case, you want to choose a name that will help distinguish you from all the rest. On the flip side, if you have a long first or last name or a name with more consonants than vowels, you may stand out negatively. Hard to pronounce names mean less word of mouth recommendations and if your name is too long it might not fit neatly on your covers.

Things to consider when choosing a Pen Name

The similarity to famous Authors– You might think it a great idea to choose a pen name like JP Rawling or James Peterson, but it can actually hurt your ability to sell. The literary world is full of diehard fans who will gladly pan your work and spam your books with negative reviews in defense of their favorite authors.

Does the name you chose fit with your chosen genre– A name like Sly Nyx will be more widely accepted amongst Paranormal Romance, and Fantasy readers than Historical fiction.

Can be a variation of your real name– If you aren’t feeling particularly creative or have a name “issue” as mentioned above, it is perfectly okay to shorten your name how you see fit. It will also make filing your taxes easier since it is still technically your legal name.  Example, Elizabeth Marie Johnson could become Eliza Mar or E.M. Johns.

Position on Brick & Mortar Shelves- A much-overlooked factor in choosing a pen name. Depending on the number of items in stock a name towards the end of the alphabet like S-Z is more likely to fall on bottom shelves and away from the valuable eye-level shelf space key to grabbing reader’s attention.

Need a little help coming up with a name? Check out these fun pen name generators!

Pseudonym Generator

Reedsy Pen Name Generator

Kindlepreneur Pen Name Generator

NaNoWriMo Day 28

Community is Key

brass ornate vintage key on black computer keyboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Day 28 of NaNoWriMawesomeness! I was able to sit down and attempt to write for most of the day. I did more planning than writing to begin with. really hammering in my plot goals for each arc so I could get to the fun part of filling in the gaps. Again I cannot express the importance of having a solid group of writing friends. Even when I feel like I couldn’t possible write that day or even week, my group is there to cheer me on. While I have abandoned reaching a second 50K draft for NaNoWriMo, I haven’t given up completely on writing for the remaining days. I set a new goal of 15K words for the next couple of days and I am proud to say its looking to be quite possible.

 

Total Words By End of Day

11,411

NaNoWriMo Day 22

photo of assorted food hanging on gray metal railings
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

It’s so close I can smell it! I’m not just talking about the yummy Thanksgiving Meal I’ll be enjoying later today. Just over one week until the end of National Novel Writing Month! If you haven’t reached the 50K word goal yet, I encourage you to keep pushing. Even if you don’t quite make it or are far from that mark. You deserve a round of applause just for trying your best to get there. NaNoWriMo is definitely a challenge where participation awards are just as valuable. How many times as writers have we heard from friends and strangers “I wish I could write a novel” but they’ve never actually tried? So many I wish I got paid every time. So bust out that laptop, tablet, notebook, pen, and paper and get to writing!

NaNoWriMo Day 21

photo of room full of toys
Photo by Alex Kremer on Pexels.com

I must admit I am distracted by the upcoming holiday. I myself am only doing the minimal amount of cooking required because of a much-appreciated invite to a friend’s dinner. Still, I managed to get in some decent writing time today. Well, writing is a bit of a stretch. I mostly sat in front of my computer staring at a blank screen and trying to Jedi mind trick myself back into binge writing mode. Maybe I’ll just enjoy a holiday break and pick things back up in a couple of days.

NaNoWriMo Day 20

bridge clouds cloudy dark clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Feeling like the little engine that just couldn’t. That about sums up my feelings so far in the second half of my NaNoWriMo journey. Either way, I am still sitting in front of my laptop and doing my best to put up at least a couple hundred words a day. Even if I am nowhere near the on par total for the day.

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