Tag Archives: Writing Tools

2017 Favorite Writing Tools

2 Dec

Toward the end of every year, I like to talk about my favorite books, but I thought I’d share my favorite new writing experiences, too. This list is based on tools I tried in 2017, not necessarily tools that released in 2017, but I hope you find it helpful anyway.

Website: MSWL

For those of you querying, MSWL (or Manuscript Wishlist) organizes agents, editors, and publishers by showing what they wish they’d receive in their inbox. Read profiles on the website or do a quick search on Twitter’s #MSWL. Sometimes wishes can get oddly specific, but don’t be discouraged. Specifics are not usually meant to be read as “this is the ONLY thing I want,” but rather a fun way to reach out to those perfect matches. Generalized wishlist items are mainly on the website profiles (and, of course, you should always visit the person’s main website). MSWL is a fun way to see what people are asking for. On top of that, they now have a fantastic newsletter, podcast, and classes. Even online pitch sessions! It’s a tool worth checking out, whether or not you’re querying. Any cons? Sometimes sketchy people show up. Always do further research on the agent, editor, or publisher.

Technology: Alphasmart Neo

After seeing the YA Gal post her Alphasmart Neo on Facebook, I had a flashback to middle school when these wireless keyboards were used in the classroom. I immediately wanted one for myself. Why? Because I spend all day on the computer at my job. My computer screen KILLS my eyes, and sometimes the Internet is too big of a distraction. I bought myself an Alphasmart Neo because I wanted to be able to write away from my technology…and I’ve used it so much it’s stupid. I absolutely love it, and wish I would’ve bought one earlier. Cons? I have major ADD. My mind skips all over the place when I’m writing, and scrolling/organizing can be a little difficult on a screen that only shows four lines at a time, so I’m mainly using it for first drafts/ideas. I also make a lot more spelling mistakes, but that could be because the keyboard is different than the one I’m used to, and, hey, I have to edit everything I write anyway, so no big deal. What’s an additional read-through?

App: SimpleNote

Last year, I downloaded Scrivener for the first time. Well, this year, I wanted to sync my Scrivener to my phone, but, as far as I know, Scrivener doesn’t have a phone app for Andriod yet. I did some research and landed on SimpleNote, which allows me to sync directly with my Scrivener. That way, I always have my books with me. Cons? You have to have some foresight as to what you want to take with you. It doesn’t automatically sync everything. You pick which file you want. But you can always create a new document and upload it later if you forgot to sync the file you want to edit.

Podcast: 88 Cups of Tea

Somehow I just discovered 88 Cups of Tea. How? No idea. Because I love it. If you want to listen to exclusive interviews with some of your favorite, big-name authors, this podcast is for you. It’s both casual and enlightening. Con? Sometimes I find interview titles misleading. Ex. An episode that says it will talk about X but they only discuss X for 10 minutes in a 50-minute episode. But if I could learn how to relax in my workaholic life, I don’t think this is an issue. In fact, being reminded that writers are people is incredibly important, and I appreciate how candid many guests get during discussions. So, if you love personal stories, this podcast is for you.

FB Group: AAYAA

I joined AAYAA this year at the suggestion of a friend, and I LOVE it. If you’re a young adult author, AAYAA is great. There’s a website, Twitter, and Facebook group, but I’ve found the FB to be my favorite place to go. It connects young adult authors together for insight, opportunities, and more. I’ve already made a couple friends, gained some new followers, and learned information that I didn’t know before. Con? Every once in a while, a troll might appear, but hey, that’s the Internet for you.

New Writing Tip?

Just last month, I attended the SCBWI conference. During the breakout session Revision—Preparing Your MG & YA Novel for Submission, Jennifer Soloway discussed so many amazing writing tips, but one in particular really stood out to me: They say to “Show, Don’t Tell”, but sometimes you have to do both. The example she used was a gasping girl with a pounding heart. Even in the context of the scene, a reader could interpret her emotions for fear, excitement, or a health condition. Sometimes it’s okay to say fear paralyzed a person or “I am terrified.” It’s about balance. I’ve been struggling with this a little bit in my writing lately. I have let traditional rules get in the way a little too much. This was a nice reminder. Con? Swinging too much the other way.

So these were my top new writing tools I used this year. Did you try anything out for the first time? Have any tips? Share away!

~SAT

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Writers and Vocabulary

9 Jan

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

The famous Stephen King said it, and so many more agree.

I vehemently say this to every writer I know. Why? Because it amazes me how many writers don’t read on a regular basis.

By reading, you’re expanding your creativity, your stories, your life, and even your vocabulary. And your vocabulary is vital.

Today, I wanted to concentrate on expanding your vocabulary and why it’s so important. I’ve sort of written about this before—Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary —where I discussed how you should not only read a lot, but pay attention while reading. This includes marking every word or phrase you come across that you’re unsure of, so that you can come back later to study them. I call this a vocabulary study guide.

books-writing-reading-sonja-langford

So what is my vocabulary study guide?

I create one every time I read a book. While reading, I circle words, and after I’m finished, I study them. This list includes words I don’t know, words that catch me off guard, words I know but forget to remember, and words I simply want to concentrate on more, maybe because they’re beautiful or strange or perfect for certain scenarios.

How do I organize it?

Personally, I categorize words by most likely subject. By feelings or people or places or, my personal favorite, body parts and other medical things. (Example from below? Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.) Sometimes, though, I organize my lists by words I need extra help on. In my below example for instance, I circled inscrutable FOUR times in the SAME book. (And this isn’t the first book I circled it in.) Why? I know this word. I do. But for some reason, whenever I’m reading or writing, my brain stumbles over it. I want, more than anything, for inscrutable to become natural to me.

So here is a literal example from my most recent read.

All of these words come from Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, a young adult book about prohibition, asylums, and hemopaths, people capable of creating illusions through song, poetry, and art. I highly recommend this diverse read, and I hope this list of beautiful words encourages you to check it out. Seriously. Everything in this post comes from that book. If you’re curious, here’s my book review on Goodreads.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria Study Guide:

Five Senses:

          Sound:

Raucously: making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise

Sonorous: (of a person’s voice or other sound) imposingly deep and full

          Smell:

Redolent: fragrant and sweet smelling OR strongly reminiscent or suggestive of

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Another reason to learn? Wooing women. 😉

Emotions:

Avaricious: having or showing an extreme greed for wealth or material gain

Imperturbable: unable to be upset or excited; calm

Languorous: the state or feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia

Temerity: excessive confidence or boldness; audacity

Beatific: blissfully happy

Body parts/Medical:

Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.

Paunchy: a large or protruding abdomen or stomach.

Relating to People:

Spectacled: wearing spectacles

Haughty: arrogantly superior and disdainful

Stodgy: dull and uninspired, ex. stodgy old men

Gaggle: a disorderly or noisy group of people (also a flock of geese)

Expression: Speaking/Writing:

Asperity: harshness of tone or manner

Succinctly: (especially of something written or spoken) briefly and clearly expressed

Other Description:

Inscrutable: impossible to understand or interpret

Ostensibly: apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually

Anathema: something or someone that one vehemently dislikes

You might think you know every word you read, but really, if you slow down and ask yourself what the literal definitions of words are (rather than relying on context), you’ll force yourself to look up more and more words to learn on your own. It might seem like a waste of time or time-consuming, but I honestly love it. I revel in challenging myself to memorize new phrases and understand a wider range of the English language, and I believe it helps my writing.

Try it out for yourself and see which words you learn.

Who knows? You might need to use it in a novel one day.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Weaknesses in Writing

26 Dec

Writers always have room for improvement. Even if you’re a New York Times Best Seller, you are growing every single day, and knowing what aspects to work on can definitely help your career.

How do you know what to concentrate on?

Be honest with yourself.

Most writers know what their weaknesses are. Maybe it’s those pesky fighting scenes (or kissing scenes). Maybe creating villains is really difficult for you, or world-building takes wayyyyyy too long (like five years too long).

We probably know where we need extra help, because it takes us more time than usual to overcome that particular obstacle…and that’s okay!

Understanding your weaknesses as a writer will help you overcome them and learn from them. So, here are some tips to figure them out, work with them, and beat them.

1. Make Lists!

While you’re writing, you’ll come across those tricky areas and struggle. Take note of where and how and why you struggle during particular times. Also take note of how you figured out the issues eventually. By forcing yourself to step away and reevaluate it, you’ll see more patterns, and you’ll be able to research or study that particular area until you no longer struggle as much. Want an example? I LOVE my side characters, sometimes a little too much, and while I can explore side characters, I often let them overshadow my main characters during the first draft. In the current book I’m working on, I have a note to tone down those subplots. That way, I don’t get out of control again. (And if I do, I have notes on how to fix it when I’m editing.)

Another list I love to keep outlines my crutch words. This includes words I use WAY too often and words I often misspell or just need to look out for in general. Crutch is actually one of my misspellings. I always use clutch instead. Why? I have no idea, but I know that I need to search for clutch and crutch every time I’m editing. I also search for all those pesky, repetitive expressions like smile, nod, frown, smirk, laugh, etc. There’s nothing better than finding out you used the word smile six times on one page and deleting them ALL before anyone else reads your Crest commercial…er, I mean, book.

writerweaknesses2. Read, Research, Practice!

If you’re anything like me, you might struggle with romantic scenes. (Seriously, I feel like a Peeping Tom every time I write a romantic scene. It really ruins everything for me, which is probably why most of my novels have very little romance in them. But moving on…) I know this about myself. I know to take my time on these scenes, and I realize I’ll edit them a hundred times over. But one thing that I find that fixes my issues more than anything else is reading. By reading, I will see how authors evoke emotions I struggle to explain. Whenever I come across a romantic scene in a book I’m reading, I definitely pay more attention than usual. I might even take notes on how and why it was a successful scene, so that I can consider how to utilize those tools in the future. This is where research and practice comes into play. Once you start realizing what works for you and others, you can try out your new skills on short stories or individual scenes. By writing and rewriting those areas you struggle in, you will start to feel more confident and comfortable over time. (Plus, we could always use another excuse to read.)

3. Remember One Thing!

Weaknesses do not make you a bad writer. Everyone has them. Yes, even J.K. Rowling. Maybe you have a bad habit of dream sequences or too many flashbacks or your villain falls flat every time. That’s okay! As long as you understand that these are issues, you can fix them. Look at it this way, isn’t it better to know about them, and be honest about them, than be oblivious or ignore the issue at hand? Writing is a journey. Some scenes will work perfectly; others might need more work. Take your time. Embrace the challenges, and prove to yourself that you can overcome them.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Writing Rituals: All You Need To Know

16 Nov

Intro:

There are so many writing tips out there many writers don’t know where to start when they are looking for extra help. Sometimes, it’s as simple as starting with yourself, like your daily habits or your office space. Today, Heena Rathore P. is discussing writing rituals and how creating one can help energize your writing. Let’s welcome her!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Writing Rituals: All You Need To Know by Heena Rathore P.

First of all I’d like to thank Shannon for letting me do a post for her amazing blog, Thanks a lot, Shannon!

What is a Writing Ritual?

Rituals, as defined in Merriam-Webster, are a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone. So, in layman’s terms, Writing Rituals are nothing but these actions done specifically for writing or writing better.

In short, Writing Rituals are actions that trigger your creativity while shifting your mind into a mood for writing.

How are they beneficial?

Writing Rituals make sure that you are using the creative side of your brain to the fullest. Imagine yourself as a fitness freak who goes to gym every single day. Now, what is the one thing you would do before beginning the actual workout or the heavy workout? The answer is a warming up. So, to put it simply, Writing Rituals are important to prepare your brain to write, a creative warm up or a jumpstart, so to say.

As creative beings we all are well aware that if a writer is not in the mood for writing then he/she will most definitely NOT write and, as as a writer myself, I know firsthand that this happens quite often.

But, this can be easily avoided if you practice Writing Rituals.

To summarise, following are the benefits of Writing Rituals:

  • The ultimate cure for the much dreaded Writer’s Block.
  • Helps in writing better.
  • Helps in utilising the complete potential of your creative mind.
  • Saves a lot of time and emotional energy.
  • Helps in writing regularly.
  • Makes you more organised and disciplined.
  • Helps in successfully avoiding distractions.
Photo provided by Heena

Photo provided by Heena

How to create a Writing Ritual?

The name Writing Ritual sounds heavy, right? But creating one is simple, trust me. Just think about what really relaxes you?

A hot bath? A cup of tea? Meditation? Music? Dancing? Exercising? Jumping? Eating? Power-napping?

You can make any of these things a ritual. But the key is to treat it like one and with respect otherwise it won’t work.

For e.g., Scented candles, hot shower, soft cotton clothes and meditation help me relax. So, my Writing Ritual involves all theses things. I take a long, long hot shower, put on my cotton shorts and T, light a scented candle on my writing table and meditate for 5 minutes.

After doing this when I open my laptop, I feel like I’m totally ready to write. And that, my friends, is what is really important. You can’t write unless you feel ready to write.

Sometimes I also add a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate to my ritual.

Writing Rituals can be as simple as having a fixed place to write or writing in a certain position. Or they can be as complex as having to climb the mountaintop to write at a particular spot there. So, you see, it’s not difficult because it’s all upto you. In fact, it’s quite fun and I’m sure you’ll love doing it.
Just make sure that you do it regularly (each and everyday, if possible.)

Is there some science involved? 

The answer is, yes. As everyone knows, our brains are divided into two parts: Left Hemisphere and Right Hemisphere. Left hemisphere controls logical thinking whereas the right hemisphere controls creative thinking (in creative people right hemisphere is dominant.)

So, in order to use the right side of the brain it’s important to buzz out the left side entirely and trigger the right side. And this can be achieve only through relaxation. As far as my research goes, right side of the brain works flawlessly when a person is relaxed.

And Writing Rituals achieve this state quite efficiently.

Do famous authors have Writing Rituals?

Yes, as a matter of fact, most of the famous authors have their very own Writing Rituals. Right from Jane Austin to Stephen King, Mark Twain to Victor Hugo, everyone had/has one. Some are a lot simpler than others while others are a lot weirder.

If you find this subject interesting, you might want to check out these amazing articles:

What about you? Do you a Writing Ritual(s) of your own? Or are you convinced to have one now?

If you want to create one but feel that you can’t, then don’t hesitate to contact me. Please feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Heena Rathore P. (pic)Bio:

Heena Rathore P. is a writer from urban India. By profession she’s a freelance writer. Presently, she’s working on her first novel, Deceived, a psychological-thriller.

Apart from writing she loves spending her time reading and doing other creative stuff like painting, sketching and drawing.

She’s an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader who is highly opinionated and a dog-lover.

You can connect with her at her Author Blog, Twitter, Instagram Goodreads or Facebook.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: 6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All The Writers And Editors Out There

22 Jun

Intro:

Being a writer is tough work, but there are ways to make writing easier on you. Today’s guest blogger, Ashley Sanford, is listing just some of the many tools writers can use to improve their writing. Whether these tools help organize you, keep you focused, or edit your grammar, these tools are bound to help some writers out there! So, if you’ve used one, let us know what you think, and if you haven’t used one, let us know which ones sound like something you would use. And—of course—if you have any additional tools you know about, tell us about them.

6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All The Writers And Editors Out There by Ashley Sanford

As easy as it may sound to some people, writing is a difficult task and requires complete dedication of the writer. While you need a certain level of interest and skills to become a good writer or an editor, there are various apps and tools available on the internet which can help you make your life more convenient and efficient as a writer.

So, let’s not waste any more time and check out the following productive tools:

1. Google Docs

Google Docs is definitely the most popular app among writers around the world because this is a complete package that any writer can ask for. With Google Docs, you can create content in any manner you want. Insert pictures, flowcharts, tables or simply change the style of writing with just a few simple steps. Google docs provide the writers and editors with a facility to write and edit their content anywhere or anytime, at their own discretion.

2. Focus Writer

The on-screen and off-screen distractions play a major role in distracting away the writer. While it is easy to tackle off-screen distractions like noises, television, etc., it becomes difficult for certain writers to pay close attention and type their thoughts with a colorful screen. So, if you are looking for just a plain canvas for writing, then this is just the right tool for you. It also provides features like alarm, goal setting, sound effects and timer so that you can organize your work or projects and do things more efficiently.

3. AutoCrit

This is a must-have tool for all writers, especially editors. You can use this tool for free, though a premium account is also available. With just a single click, you can check everything in your content and correct it right away without having to read each and every word carefully as it helps highlighting the problematic areas in the manuscript. You can easily edit and remove grammatical mistakes, over-used words and other mistakes with this tool efficiently.

4. Peak Dissertation

Don’t let the name fool you! Be it a novel, creative write-up or a dissertation, you can let your transcripts proofread and edited by a professional via this service. The service is ideal for people who find it a bit difficult to do editing on their own. Regardless, with this resource at your disposal you can get your projects polished to perfection whenever you want.

tools

5. Merriam Webster

Sometimes, the biggest problem a writer may face is the selection of words that will be best suitable to describe his idea. So, get this app right now if you do not want to waste your productive time brainstorming the right words. This free app is by far the most convenient way to finding the right words that help you convey your message to the readers in the best possible manner.

6. Evernote

This is a very popular app among writers and editors who want to do things in a well-organized manner, and on-the-go. You can save relevant pictures, screenshots, write even the lengthiest notes and search for your required document easily within the app with a search option anytime as per your need. All you need to do is sign in from your account, and you can access your entire collection of content, pictures and notes from any computer, anywhere in the world.

7. Hemingway

Editing is indeed an intimidating task that editors have to do for ensuring the quality of their content. With quite a few apps available in the market to facilitate editors, Hemingway is an outstanding one with its great features and accuracy. All you need to do is to copy paste the desired content on this app and let it find mistakes for you. It points out all the sentences that do not make any sense or those that contain over-used words. Plus, it can identify any grammatical mistakes in your work.

Once, you know how and when to use online tools and apps to facilitate your writing or editing, you will realize how easy and manageable your work can become. So, it is indeed a wise idea to take a look at all tools and pick the one according to your nature of work.

Bio:

Ashley Sanford leads the team of content developers. Apart from content development, she’s also fairly talented at art and designs, and she loves to roam Art museums in her country.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

Website Wonders

29 May

Hi, everyone! For once, I’m not announcing anyone. I am back, and I am blogging! ::does a little dance even though you’re watching::

I am really happy to be back (obviously) and I am even happier that you all enjoyed the guest bloggers of May. Today is reserved for Website Wonders – all of the websites that I have obsessed over this month, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. The articles are organized into these topics: In the News, Writing Tips, For Readers, The Poets, Inspire, and For Fun and Laughter. All links will send you to the article.

Enjoy!

In the News:

As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish:  This article is first for many reasons. I’m really passionate about the publishing industry, and I want to see it succeed for everyone. I know. I know. Many have been taking Amazon’s side because everyone “hates” the big 5 – but shifting the power from 5 to 1 is not a good idea. Plus, preventing David Sedaris’ novels is never going to fly. Either is preventing Robert Galbraith. (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) But I’ll stop ranting here.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Book 4 Coming?: E.L. James is heating up the publishing world (and Kindles) again! Kind of. Photo included. Kind of.

Tim Burton to direct ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ slated for July 2015: Muh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. ::cue the creepy and delightful laughter:: I am a huge Tim Burton fan.

Writing Tips:

Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language:  This was really popular on my Facebook page. It’s an amazingly thorough list of different ways to describe body language based on emotions.

This Sentence Has Five Words: I can’t explain this because it would spoil the piece, but I definitely recommend it.

5 Editor’s Secrets to Help You Write Like a Pro

My friend sent me this

My friend sent me this

13 Wonderful Old English Words We Should Still Be Using Today

For Readers:

7 Historical Parallels to ‘Game of Thrones’: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you will absolutely love this.

32 People Reveal The One Book That Blew Their Minds: My favorite novel is on here! Is yours?

For Lexophiles (lover of words): Read these sentences twice. You will love them.

From Random House

From Random House

33 More Things We’d Do if We Were Locked in a Bookstore Overnight: What would you do in Barnes & Noble?

Q&A with Cassandra Clare: I just finished City of Heavenly Fire last night :]

The Poets:

Words and Pictures by Grant Snider: This comic is hilarious and true!

He’s Counting Down from 21, and By the Time He Reaches 15, My Stomach was in Knots: These sort of poems live in the depths of your soul forever.

Inspire:

Top Ten Mythical Places

No Photoshop. These Are Real Animals! These models and their animals are fantastical.

12 Photos of the Strangest Weather Phenomena Ever Witnessed

These 22 Far Away Perspectives of Famous Places Will Change the Way You See Them Forever: Who doesn’t like a change in perspective?

Artist Turns Dead Old Watches into Creepy Mechanical Crawlies 

30 Awesome Photos from Iceland

From David Olenick

From David Olenick

For Fun and Laughter:

Which Magical Creature Are You? I am a Sphinx

20 Funny Cat Photos That Are Sure to Make You Smile

~SAT

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