From the blog

The Geek Writer: Using Technology to Self-Publish Your Novel

by Anne Hogue-Boucher Jul 13, 2016

The Geek Writer:  Using Technology to Self-Publish Your Novel

After a painstaking process of planning, writing, and editing your work, it’s time to consider publishing it. For most writers, this is the most exciting and fear-inspiring task (possibly a greater heart-stopping experience than editing alone). Your work will be on display for public consumption, and you want to ensure it’s the best work possible. If you’ve decided to join the ranks of the intrepid self-published authors, then you have one—and only one—person you can rely on: yourself.

Back before we tech-savvy geeky writers existed, self-publishing was considered vain and a bit silly, and your work wasn’t taken seriously. David Wong, with his novel, John Dies at the End, broke that stereotype of the self-published novelist, and here we are. Now, traditional publishers are nervous (and rightly so) due to the wonderful world of technology.

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Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

by Kathy Edens Jul 13, 2016

Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

Scenes are the rising and falling action, and the soft moments in between, that move your story forward. They have a couple of basic purposes:

  • They establish time and place. They give the reader a marker on where and when things are happening.
  • They help develop character. Even if the scene is pure action, you learn about the character’s motivations by his or her decisions, choices, and actions.
  • They let characters set goals. Without goals to achieve, characters have no reason to act or emote. Readers want to know what’s at stake.
  • They allow the action to rise or fall. This movement is what carries your reader forward.
  • They let you crank up the conflict. Without conflict, you won’t have tension. And without tension, your story is boring.

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8 Ways to Make Your Story Boring

by Devlin Blake Jul 11, 2016

8 Ways to Make Your Story Boring

It’s the fear of every writer: writing a story your reader CAN put down. No writer wants to think their story is boring, but sometimes it is. Fortunately, there are only a few reasons stories are boring. Once you know what they are, you can make sure that your reader will keep reading.

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When Do I Need to Hyphenate?

by ProWritingAid Jul 06, 2016

When Do I Need to Hyphenate?

Depending on who you subscribe to, you may hear some very different ideas concerning when and how to hyphenate. We’re here to set the record straight:

When in doubt, look it up.

Yep. This is the one form of punctuation that you’re best off looking up if you’re unsure. And another complication is that various style manuals conform to different rules. Add to that the state of fluctuation around certain words that can either be hyphenated, two separate words, or written together as one. Click through for some practical examples.

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How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph

by ProWritingAid Jun 23, 2016

How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph

The Chicago Manual of Style, putting dialogue in the middle of paragraphs depends on the context. As in the above example, if the dialogue is a natural continuation of the sentences that come before, it can be included in your paragraph. The major caveat is if someone new speaks after that, you start a new paragraph and indent it.

On the other hand, if the dialogue you’re writing departs from the sentences that come before it, you should start a new paragraph and indent the dialogue.

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5 Everyday PDF Tips for Writers

by Sandra Rodgers Jun 22, 2016

5 Everyday PDF Tips for Writers

Using PDF files can be beneficial in more ways than you can imagine. It’s been more than 20 years since the creation of this file format they’ve always had a special place in the world of writing and editing. If you have PDFs that you work with, or would like to start working with, you might want to check out these 5 tips:

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Getting Started with ProWritingAid's MS Word Add-in

by ProWritingAid Jun 22, 2016

Getting Started with ProWritingAid's MS Word Add-in

If you haven’t used a Word add-in before, it’s very simple. You just need to download a small bit of software, which will then be automatically added to your menu in Word.

Click here and then click the “Download ProWritingAid add-in” button. A small file called ProWritingAidSetup.exe will begin to download. When it’s finished downloading, click it and a window will open asking you to agree to the license terms and conditions. Once you click the “agree” box, you will be able to begin installing.

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How to Create Striking Similes

by ProWritingAid Jun 20, 2016

How to Create Striking Similes

Similes can be found in all types of writing, from journalism to fiction to advertising. They’re creative ways to bring more attention and clarity to your meaning than straight narrative.

If you want to give your reader a thoughtful mental image while they’re reading, a simile is a great place to start. When you compare your main character to an animal or even an inanimate object like a giant sequoia, you’re exposing your reader to another way of looking at something that’s fresh and new.

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What is a Subordinate Clause

by ProWritingAid Jun 20, 2016

What is a Subordinate Clause

Firstly, a clause is a group of words that contain both a subject and a verb like: She ran to answer the phone.

A subordinate clause depends on a main clause to form a complete sentence or thought like: ...because she could hear ringing in the other room

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What are the 25 ProWritingAid Reports?

by ProWritingAid Jun 14, 2016

What are the 25 ProWritingAid Reports?

ProWritingAid analyzes your writing and presents its findings in 25 different reports. Each user will have their own writing strengths and weaknesses and so different reports will appeal to different people.

Remember, all the software can do is highlight potential pitfalls in your writing. It's up to you, the writer, to decide which suggestions work within your specific context, and which ones should be ignored.

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The Geek Writer: Using Technology to Plan Your Novel

by Anne Hogue-Boucher Jun 14, 2016

The Geek Writer: Using Technology to Plan Your Novel

If you’re old enough, you remember the days of pen and paper writing, or dragging out the typewriter or word processor to write your novel. Planning your novel typically involved a notebook (or ten) to outline your plot, structure, list of characters, list of places, and timelines. If those notebooks were lost, stolen, or worse, destroyed, all that original work was gone. Wiped out. Never to be seen again.

Luckily for all of us, with the advent of technology, we have one less headache when planning a novel and can avoid devastation should the worst happen. The savvy geek writer knows to use the wonderful world of the internet to plan out their novels.

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Writing App Reviews… Scrivener

by Kathy Edens Jun 14, 2016

Writing App Reviews… Scrivener

As a writer, I’d heard about Scrivener from many of my peers, but for whatever reason (pure obstinance, probably), I stuck with my old word processing program. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I finally acquiesced and purchased Scrivener. I haven’t looked back!

If you’ve ever set up a binder to try to organize the various plans and ideas for your novel—or even just articles—you probably had sections to hold your character sketches, setting ideas, plot outline, and research. You may have had separate sections to contain each of your scenes and chapters. You might even have had a section that contained nothing but pictures clipped from magazines that sparked your imagination.

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Where Does Punctuation Go in Dialogue?

by ProWritingAid Jun 08, 2016

Where Does Punctuation Go in Dialogue?

Dialogue is a fantastic way to bring your readers into the midst of the action. They can picture the main character talking to someone in their mind’s eye, and it gives them a glimpse into how your character interacts with others.

That said, dialogue is hard to punctuate, especially since there are different rules for different punctuation marks—because nothing in English grammar is ever easy, right? We’re going to try to make this as easy as possible.

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Echoes Report

by ProWritingAid Jun 07, 2016

Duplicating or repeating a word or phrase too quickly is an easy mistake to make. If you've just used a word then it will be active in your mind and so you can easily use it again without even realising. This is a key sign of an inexperienced writer, or not enough time spent on the editing phase! Although it can be an easy mistake to make it can be really difficult to spot.

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Find All Repeated Phrases in a Document

by ProWritingAid Jun 07, 2016

Ever get sick of a character who does the same thing over and over again, like frowning, smiling, grimacing, etc?   You can solve the problem by making sure you don't have too many repeated phrases in your manuscript.

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10 Websites to Help Improve Your Grammar

by ProWritingAid Jun 06, 2016

10 Websites to Help Improve Your Grammar Grammar is an essential part of writing, as it helps to convey the message or idea you are trying to get across. That being said, most writers might agree that their grammar skills could use a little freshening up from time to time. Luckily there are various websites that exist strictly for the purpose of improving one’s grammar. The ProWritingAid blog is a great place to start, but we also recommend the following sites.

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Why Every Confident but Struggling Writer Needs a Blog

by Jaron Swab May 29, 2016

Why Every Confident but Struggling Writer Needs a Blog

Considering how easy it is to start blogging, no aspiring writer should be without one. Below, I have listed the four key reasons why you need to set up your own blog asap, and then I have thrown in four important tips that will actually help you get started.

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How Do You Find and Get Rid of Redundant Adverbs?

by ProWritingAid May 25, 2016

How Do You Find and Get Rid of Redundant Adverbs?

An adverb is redundant if you use it to modify a verb with the same meaning in its definition. Read more about how redundant adverbs clutter up your writing and how to get rid of them.

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How to Create Fantastic Metaphors

by ProWritingAid May 25, 2016

How to Create Fantastic Metaphors

Aristotle said a metaphor was “the act of giving a thing a name that belongs to something else.” It allows you to pack a powerful punch in a few words. Your reader can take their full understanding of one thing, and apply it to another thing. By writing, “my cubicle is a prison,” your reader understands how you feel about your job. With just that one word that they know you feel trapped, unhappy, desolate.

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How to use... The Diction Report

by ProWritingAid May 23, 2016

How to use... The Diction Report

The Diction Report helps you avoid unnecessarily complicated writing by analyzing your word selection and sentence construction.

When it comes to writing, less is more. Make every word count. If it's not essential, cut it. Too often when writers are trying to sound authoritative, they choose the wordy ways of saying something simple. Why write “has the ability to” when you can write “can”? You’re just using more words to say the same thing, which actually makes your writing much less clear.

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