From the blog

Future Perfect? Past Continuous? What are All the Verb Tenses?

by ProWritingAid Sep 14, 2016

Future Perfect? Past Continuous? What are All the Verb Tenses?

Much like the specters Scrooge faced in A Christmas Carol, writers face 3 different verb tenses when constructing sentences: Past, Present, and Future.

Just like the Ghost of Christmas Past, a past tense verb refers to something that has already happened. The most commonly used verb tense is present, which talks about what’s going on right at this very moment. And the final, future tense tells us what might or will happen in the future. But that's not where it ends. There are three additional ways to talk about past, present, and future tense verbs: Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous. Sometimes referred to as aspects rather than tenses, these tell us about an action that happens once or repeatedly and if it’s completed or still continuing

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What's the Difference Between Narrative and Exposition?

by ProWritingAid Sep 14, 2016

What's the Difference Between Narrative and Exposition?

Sometimes, narrative and exposition are used synonymously to explain parts of a novel that “narrate” information for the reader. They are, in fact, different devices used to give the reader information. Used appropriately, narrative and exposition affect the pacing of your story.

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Write What You Know? Think Bigger

by Kathy Edens Sep 07, 2016

Write What You Know? Think Bigger

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, the idea of “Write what you know” made me feel like a whole realm of literary possibility was off-limits to me. And yet, my own breadth of experience felt too small to contain a great story. I began to worry that my lack of experiences in life meant that I had nothing important to say. Seriously, who wants to read about my boring life?

I wish someone had explained that the concept of “Write what you know” is much bigger and more nuanced than that.

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What are Word Classes?

by ProWritingAid Aug 31, 2016

What are Word Classes?

Word classes are parts of speech. They’re the building blocks that form every sentence ever uttered. They are categorized by the role they play in your sentences.

Everyone agrees on the following four main word classes: 1. Noun 2. Verb 3. Adjective 4. Adverb

There are varying opinions as to whether the following five categories are word classes or word forms. So we went straight to the experts: the Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries. Per these two highly learned sources, the following are considered word classes also:

  1. Pronoun (e.g. I, you, me, we, mine, someone, he, she)
  2. Preposition (e.g. at, in, on, across, behind, for)

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What’s She Thinking? How to Use Inner Dialogue…

by ProWritingAid Aug 26, 2016

What’s She Thinking? How to Use Inner Dialogue…

Inner dialogue. Internal thought. Interior monologue. Internal speech. Whatever you call it, this internal thought process is as important as regular dialogue, character arc, and narrative arc in helping your reader understand your main character at an intimate level. It also serves to move your story forward and keep your readers deeply connected.

Unlike the one- or two-dimensional characters you see in movies and on television, when using inner dialogue in your narrative, it helps you present a much more nuanced and three-dimensional character. And since most stories are character driven, you really need to add that inner dialogue in.

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How Not to Write a Novel

by Kathy Edens Aug 17, 2016

How Not to Write a Novel

Here at ProWritingAid we spend a lot of time looking at the things you should be doing to get your novel done. But what about the things you SHOULDN'T be doing?

In this essential post, Kathy Edens looks at five common things that will ensure that your novel never gets finished.

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3 Crucial Social Media Tricks Most Writers Ignore

by John Cabrera Aug 17, 2016

3 Crucial Social Media Tricks Most Writers Ignore

Web-based promotion has become just as important for writers as producing content. You can write the most suspenseful novel, the most scathing political blog, or the most comprehensive report, but unless you find a way to get it out there, your words will go unread. Social media makes up an estimated 30% of web traffic and offers a huge array of promotional opportunities. Most writers, however, don’t even scratch the surface. There are so many factors that increase the visibility of SEO-oriented content and it’s important to master the basics.

Here are 3 crucial tricks to drive up web traffic and increase your audience.

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How to Self-Publish Your Book: Advice from Iain Rob Wright

by Iain Rob Wright Aug 17, 2016

How to Self-Publish Your Book: Advice from Iain Rob Wright

Did you know that a large portion of ProWritingAid users are professional writers? Some are published authors, some run high-traffic blogs, others run successful content generation companies. We love it when they take the time to share what they have learned over the years. We hope that their insights and experience help you become the writer you want to be.

This month, we speak to self-published author, Iain Rob Wright. We connected with him after he created a ProWritingAid tutorial video earlier this year. Iain was one of the first to see the potential of the self-publishing movement and managed to ride the wave back in 2011. He is now a full-time writer with fourteen books under his belt.

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Writing App Reviews…The Novel Factory

by Kathy Edens Aug 17, 2016

Writing App Reviews…The Novel Factory

This month we look at The Novel Factory, a writing app that will appeal to all the planners out there.  

The app walks you through 16 highly-detailed steps that include: defining your basic premise; setting out your plot points; fleshing out your characters; building your world; generating scenes; weaving your plot details together; and so much more. It even takes you through the submission process. What makes this program so incredibly useful is that you learn about the process of writing a novel as you go.  

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Are Your Adjectives Powerful?

by ProWritingAid Aug 02, 2016

Are Your Adjectives Powerful?

An adjective is a word that names an attribute of a noun. Some are strong and paint clear, specific pictures of the thing they are describing. Some are weak and vague and don’t tell us much. Let’s start with an example...

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Infographic: What are Homophones, Homographs, and Homonyms?

by ProWritingAid Jul 27, 2016

Infographic: What are Homophones, Homographs, and Homonyms?

Check out this great infographic to understand the difference between a homophone, a homograph and a homonym.

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Writing App Reviews … ilys

by Kathy Edens Jul 13, 2016

Writing App Reviews … ilys

I’d heard about ilys, this amazing online program that lets you only see one letter at a time of the words you’re typing. You can’t see what you’ve already said, which helps you focus instead on what you’re going to say.

This puts you in the flow. It lets your creativity jump ahead of your internal editor and crank out the words without worrying about typos and spelling errors.

All you see as you write is the last letter you typed...

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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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