So. You must know by now how easy it is for us to become blind to our mistakes, right?
There are a few techniques to combat this:
- Putting the work on back-burner and work on a different project for a while. This works, but it’s a pain if you are on a schedule
- Having a new set of eyes on the work. -MY FAVE- Having beta readers is invaluable. if you don’t have some, get them. Now.
- using editor programs. Right now I’m using a combination of Hemmingway(20$ AND WELL WORTH EVERY PENNY) and Grammarly. I’m not paying for that one, but using the free version.
That third bullet point is the one to look at today, ladies and gents. It found a humiliating string of serial mistakes in my work. and makes it generally a better read. (although Hemmingway by default wants to dumb down your writing, so weigh its advice against your stylistic choices. Don’t feel bad about saying no to its suggestions.
It’ll find yours too.
Yes, you have them.
(But I won’t tell anyone, promise!)
On a Role Roll.
My Brother Travis, author of the awesome Names of Power series is working on book three of that series, and it’s pretty snappy, if a bit rough. It’s a hoot seeing him write some of my characters into his series. (both of our series share the same world)
Meanwhile in the lab, I’m also working on my book three. The kid gloves are finally off, and things are gonna get dark. Lovin’ it.
So apparently my Screenwriting professor had the dean award me for my screenplay version of Show and Tell.
Here’s the Screenplay version if you were curious.
This is my Artist’s concept of The Professor’s Magimech. Hope you love it. (Yes, the head is a dirt bike helmet. That’s intentional.)
And yes, the artist is aware of the weirdness with the chaingun barrels. He’s fixing it.
All writers know that they could edit their works forever. Picking at nits for eternity.
This happens for a few reasons, but the most common are:
- Error blindness
Most authors are at least somewhat neurotic when it comes to their work, I know I am! After four or five really hard passes, just let it go into the wild. If an agent or publisher thinks you have what it takes, they’ll let you know, even if what you’re peddling isn’t what they’re buying, they know what good writing looks like.
But the main reason I made this post is that pesky second reason, error blindness.
We know our stories inside and out.
They are our children.
This is why we don’t see the flaws.
We know what the story is supposed to be saying. But that’s not always what it IS saying. our minds gloss over the mistakes/problems and we think it’s all good.
**Cue dramatic music**
I found out something amazingly helpful. And it’s at zero cost. …Well, time invested. that’s a cost, I suppose.
What is this miraculous thing, you ask?
**Dum dum dum!**
So, Word and most other text editors have the ability to use macros. and Modern text editors are pretty damned smart. They can predict what you’re going to write, can recognize mistakes in grammar and useage!
So when you tell your text editor to have a look at your document for you… the results can be pretty amazing.
Here is an example of one I use a lot. It’s called Needless Words:
‘ Highlights unnecessary words
‘ Written by Roger Mortis, revised by subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod; word list by Janice Hardy
Dim range As range
Dim i As Long
TargetList = Array(“then”, “almost”, “about”, “begin”, “start”, “decided”, “planned”, “very”, “sat”, “truly”, “rather”, “fairly”, “really”, “somewhat”, “up”, “down”, “over”, “together”, “behind”, “out”, “in order”, “around”, “only”, “just”, “even”, “gave”)
For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)
Set range = ActiveDocument.range
.Text = TargetList(i)
.Format = True
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = True
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
range.HighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise
SO. Don’t be scared by the wall of code. Just make note of that target list. Those words are often times unneeded (thus the name). So what the macro does, is search the document and highlight all of them. So you then go through it and determine if each instance is indeed useless. An example, is When you say:
Janice sat down at the table
The macro says:
Janice sat down at the table
because “Janice sat at the table” is a stronger sentence, you can remove down with confidence.
**Do look for a ‘turn highlight off’ macro as well, for when you’re done.**
But you can’t be lazy!
You must still do the work, because all this does is highlight suspect words. It’s up to you to recognize what makes a sentence stronger. For example, I generally ignore suggestions that appear in dialog, because that would strip out that character’s personality from it.
You can add words or phrases to that list too. I like to add in long form contractions, because when I write, often I forget to use contractions, and my writing looks pretentious because of it. Shapow! contractions!
So, flex your Google-Fu and research macros for writers. Your work will thank you for it.
Hey, if this has been helpful to you at all, please comment and share!
So, I had lost the partial manuscript that was
The NecroNomNomNomicon: A Recipe for War
in the tragic death of my old computer.
But it was discovered hiding in the Netherlands by a long-time friend and beta reader, Robbin Van Der Ven. He sent it back my way, and I read it, for the first time in years.
Now, to fully explain the situation, I need to back up a few decades.
I was …. maybe thirteen or fourteen. And my father was completely and utterly drunk. (not uncommon) He decided that I needed to go to the grocery store and buy some food. My father was not one to tolerate back-talk. (any disagreement was back-talk when he was drunk.) And I needed to take my brother’s bike (his call). It had broken handlebars that would flip down, so riding it was tricky at best.
On the way, I had come across a big buckle in the cement of the sidewalk, and the broken bike decided to get all wonky at that exact moment. End result, I skidded along the sidewalk, on my head. When I woke up, I staggered into the grocery store, covered in blood. I was still groggy, and recall that when I asked someone for help (soccer mom with child in tow) they screamed in terror, grabbed the child and fled. This caused a teenaged employee to appear, look at me, freak out, grab and throw me into a display of… I think cereal and run off to call an ambulance.
This accident damaged my memory. Long term memory is iffy for me at best. A good example of this is:
My brother Travis took me to see a movie. I don’t even remember what it was anymore. Just that it was awesome. I called him the next day asking him if he’d seen it.
Here’s the good that came from this accident:
Sometimes I forget what I’ve written.
This is helpful sometimes, because when a writer goes through the never-ending loop of edits and revision, one can become blind to ones mistakes, because you’ve been over it a bajillion times already. But me? Sometimes it’s like reading it for the first time all over.
This just happened to me.. again. I was reading the partial book 3, and seriously got the chills from a pretty dramatic fight scene. It was freakin’ sweet.
That’s an awesome feeling.
Shame I had to sacrifice big wodges of my childhood to get it.