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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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How to write a book, Typewriter keyboards, Short stories, and Philosophy – Weekend Roundup June 5

If you write, and you haven’t heard of Scrivener, go look it up.  Right now.

I found out about Scrivener during NaNoWriMo last year.  It’s a Mac program, but they have been working on a release for Windows, and it’s been in beta for over 7 months now.  I’m anxiously awaiting the full release, which will hopefully be in July.  I admit, I haven’t fully explored Scrivener and all it can do, but I can say, even with my limited use of it, it has changed my writing life.  You can break up your book into moveable pieces, make notes, do outlines.  You can easily find a scene you want to look at, without having to scroll through pages and pages (and pages) as you would in Word.  I can’t wait to explore it more.

Someone on BoingBoing posted a link to a list of tips from writers, and wrote that the most valuable thing she took away from the list is Scrivener.  Yep, it’s that awesome.

What I took away from the list:

Writing on the Wall

Image by Indiana Public Media via Flickr

  • I would love a huge wall to write on.  Whiteboard, chalkboard, or maybe just a wall I paint over every so often.  A big place to write down ideas, storyboard, timeline events, etc.
  • I need to write every day.  I’ve known this for…ever, of course, but I really need to do it.  Even if it’s only five minutes, I must write every day.
  • I need to get my characters in trouble.  I know this, but I love them, so I don’t want to hurt them.  But pain is a key component of survival.  I need to remember that.
  • I need to find a way to deal with distractions.  I read that Jonathan Franzen has an old laptop stripped of all distractions, including the internet, and has pretty much nothing but that laptop, a desk, and a chair in a room.  I don’t know that I can do that, but it’s probably exactly what I need.
  • I really need to get into a writing group.
  • Maybe I’ll look into a residency program next summer…hmmmm.

I love sticky, noisy keyboard keys.  I know, I’m a weirdo, I don’t care.  I’ve wanted an old-fashioned typewriter for years, but I realize it’s not practical – you know, since it’s not in an editable format.  I wondered if there was a typewriter-like keyboard somewhere out there in the world, and discovered you can make your own!  It’s well beyond my technical expertise, but maybe I can get one of my technologically inclined friends to give it a go.  Or, maybe I can buy one online...for $800…

Yeah, I’ll add that to my Christmas list…

One Story Blog made a list of the best short stories.  I’m embarrassed to say I think I’ve only read one of those on the short list, and only a couple more from the long list.  But it got me thinking about some of my favorite short stories:

How’s this for random fun?  “Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at ‘Philosophy.’”  No, really, try it!

 

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2011 in Weekend Roundup

 

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