From the blog

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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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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How to use... The Vague & Abstract Words Check

by ProWritingAid May 19, 2016

How to use... The Vague & Abstract Words Check

There are two types of words that muddy the waters for clarity and concise writing: vague and abstract words. Replacing them with strong specific words can make a huge difference to your document.

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How to use... The NLP Predicates Report

by ProWritingAid May 18, 2016

How to use... The NLP Predicates Report

It’s important to use all five senses in your writing. Every writer has a tendency to favor one or two of their senses over the others, and this affects the way that he or she experiences the world, processes information and makes memories. This means that we tend to describe characters, settings or actions using words related to our own favored senses. Writing that skews too far toward one sense over the others will resonate more with readers who favor the same sense and less so with those who do not.

The term “NLP predicate” refers to those words (primarily verbs, adverbs and adjectives) associated with the specific senses.

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How to use... The Pronoun Check

by ProWritingAid May 18, 2016

How to use... The Pronoun Check

When you are writing in creative mode, you often rely on pronouns to keep your narrative moving: “He did this,” “She did that,” “They ran there,” “I found out.” That’s fine. It’s more important to keep your writing momentum up than it is to get every sentence just right.

When you go back and edit, however, you should check your pronoun percentage. Ideally it should fall somewhere between 4% and 15%. Any more than this and your writing can feel dull. This is especially so with initial pronouns – those at the start of the sentence. Your initial pronoun percentage should be under 30%.

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How to use... The Thesaurus Check

by ProWritingAid May 18, 2016

How to use... The Thesaurus Check

Often, changing just one word in a sentence allows a writer to present a more nuanced or specific idea. The contextual thesaurus allows you to explore a wider vocabulary. Unlike most thesaurus suggestions, our report takes into account the context of the word in the sentence and offers replacement words that fit within that context.

The Thesaurus Report helps you expand your vocabulary and enrich your writing.

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How to use... The Consistency Check

by ProWritingAid May 17, 2016

How to use... The Consistency Check

The Consistency Check checks your writing for consistency in four key areas: 1) Spelling, 2) Hyphenation, 3) Capitalisation, and 4) Punctuation.

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How to Use Subplots to Bring Your Whole Story Together

by Kathy Edens May 17, 2016

How to Use Subplots to Bring Your Whole Story Together

Just like real life, your characters will have more than one thing demanding their time and attention. Romances, family life, work concerns, health issues, friendships, etc. These additional plot lines are subplots that give your story depth and help keep it moving.

And as with your main plot, all subplots should follow a narrative arc of conflict, crisis, and resolution, usually wrapped up before the main plot’s climax.

Subplots can be what’s happening to secondary characters or an internal conflict your main character is facing in addition to the main conflict of your story. The key to an effective subplot is how you work it into the main plot.

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Writing App Reviews…Ulysses

by Kathy Edens May 17, 2016

Writing App Reviews…Ulysses

We know that ProWritingAid users like a bit of writing technology, so this month we begin a new series that looks at some of the best writing platforms out there. With so many options, and more being developed every day, how do you know which one is right for you.  We sent one of our favourite freelancers, Kathy Edens, out to give them all a test run and report back. 

This month, she looks at Ulysses. Scrivener, ILYS and The Novel Factory will also be reviewed over the next couple months. 

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How to use... Readability Scores

by ProWritingAid May 15, 2016

How to use... Readability Scores

Your ProWritingAid Summary Report will provide you with a variety of readability scores that have been calculated using some of the top tools out there. Each tool calculates their score in a slightly different way but the results should be within the same ballpark.

The Flesch Reading Ease Score is the most well-known readability test out there (even the US military use it to assess the readability of their technical manuals). It calculates the total number of words in each sentence, and then the total number of syllables in each word, and gives you two scores.

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10 Free Writing Apps and Tools

by Hayley Milliman May 09, 2016

10 Free Writing Apps and Tools

There are tons of free writing apps and tools that you can use to improve your writing. Here are ten of our favorites.

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Why We Love the Oxford Comma

by ProWritingAid May 09, 2016

Why We Love the Oxford Comma

What is the Oxford comma? And why is there so much debate around whether it should be used? ProWritingAid advocates a nuanced approach to the Oxford comma depending on the clarity of the sentence.

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How to use... The Grammar Check

by ProWritingAid May 09, 2016

How to use... The Grammar Check

The Grammar Check is similar to the grammar and spelling checkers that you have probably used in within your word processor. It highlights any word that’s not in our dictionary in case it’s misspelled. It also looks at the construction of the sentence to make sure that the structure, punctuation and tense are correct.

But, in addition to these standard grammar checks, our team of copyeditors have been inputting thousands of specific checks that they have come across in their years of editing. Our goal over the next couple of years is to have a simple explanation associated with every grammar issue that the software picks up.

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