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Toning up your writing

“Is your writing flabby or fit?”  That’s the question The Writer’s Diet asks, and it gives you immediate feedback on your writing, showing you where you have excessive verbs, prepositions, and adverbs (among other things).

I found The Writer’s Diet via MetaFilter, one of my all time favorite websites.  I’ve been introduced to hundreds of news stories, photographers, artists, singers, ideas, and interesting individuals I would never have discovered otherwise.  This is just the latest.  From the metafilter post:  “The WritersDiet Test, created by Dr. Helen Sword, allows you to enter a writing sample of 100 to 1000 words and have it graded from “lean” to “heart attack” on its level of excess verbiage.”  Well, of course I wanted to find out where my writing fell.

Since I wasn’t on the computer with my current WIP, I entered in the text of one of my more storytelling posts on my other blog, Blessed by Holy Water in Tallinn.  The results?  My overall score was “Fit and Trim,” with everything except the verbs coming in at lean.  My verbs, though, evidently need toning.  The site also highlights each of the instances within your text, so you can see where you might look into editing your content.  I can see each and every instance I used be, is, are, were, am, and was.  Very interesting, indeed.  You can also download a full diagnosis, which includes suggestions for improvement.

I definitely wanted to see what came up with my current WIP, so I switched computers and copied in the first chapter.  My results:

My current WIP is lean, baby!!

So what about this post?  “Fit and Trim,” although my verbs still need toning (but, it counted the 6 instances I used it in the paragraph above as examples, so I think I should get a break on that!).

Try out The Writer’s Diet and let me know what you think of the site.  Do you think it’s useful?  Where did your writing sample fall on the health chart?

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in The Writing Process, Useful sites

 

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I said it was *not* a full edit!

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to print out my current WIP in order to get a handle on the story.  I have a beginning, a middle, and an end, I just can’t seem to connect them all (actually, it’s more that I can’t connect the middle and the end together).  After struggling with the computerized version for several months, I wondered if printing the whole thing out would help.  I very emphatically told myself (and others) that this was not a full edit – I was not going to be editing for content, spelling, grammar, or any of the other small details.  I was focusing on the Big Picture.

But how can you ignore these small mistakes?  I see them, move to correct, stop myself, remind myself that’s not what I want to do right now, skim several more sentences with that mistake still strobing in my mind, trying like crazy to stop myself from going back and correcting.

I’m only successful about half the time…

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in The Writing Process

 

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Being a writer is not very environmentally friendly

In an attempt to get a handle on my WIP Ann and Luke (working title), I printed the whole thing out this morning.  All 60,000 words.  It wasn’t something I wanted to do, because, you know, I’m killing trees, and I feel bad about it.  And I know it’s something I’m going to have to do many, many times in the course of editing and revising.  If only there were some other way!

I struggled with how to print the pages out.  Wide or narrow margins?  Single spaced or double?  Narrow margins and single spaced means less paper (less dead trees), but I’ll need space to write notes.  The way it’s currently formatted (compiled out of Scrivener) I have plenty of space between paragraphs, so I set the line spacing to 1.5 and kept the margins normal, hoping for a happy medium.

Then I wondered if I should print front side only, or front and back.  Again, front side only leaves room for notes, but really, do I need that much space for notes?  I probably do, but I’m hoping not, at least not at this juncture (it’s not a full edit at this point).  So I went with front and back, figuring I could slip in a blank page if/when I really need it.

I ended up using 112 pieces of paper, down from the original 330 when it was first compiled into Word.  And I feel a little less guilty about those dead trees.

But then again, I live in Finland.  Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about the trees.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in The Writing Process

 

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