Use the Hemingway App as a First-Pass Copy Editor

With a third of the latest work-in-progress written, I’m now ready to try out the Hemingway App. The Hemingway App is freeware that LifeHacker shared back in February 2014. Now, there are a lot of different writing apps, and I don’t put much stock into “write without distractions” software. If you want to write without distractions, turn off all your screens, turn on the radio, open a notebook, grab a pen, and start that shitty first draft.

So why did I want to try the Hemingway App? Because it promises to edit efficiently by highlighting common writing errors. It becomes, in essence, your copy editor. It will tell you a number of stats, including the:

  • Readability level
  • Number of adverbs
  • Number of complex phrases
  • Number of passive voice uses
  • Number of hard to read or difficult to read

Catching these errors by “yourself” could probably save you a cool thousand (or more) in editing fees! Find the easy stuff yourself so you can pay someone else to edit your plot. I’m all for it.

How did I do?

In short: not well. Not as bad as it could have been, but I was surprised by a couple of things. I thought I was doing much better at not using adverbs since reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, but lo, I had 128 adverbs! Similarly with passive voice… 92 times? Really?

untitledYA_hemingwayBefore

Let’s take a look at what happened when I began editing the text. I removed adverbs either outright, or replaced the verb-adverb combination with a better word. Passive voice? Gone, if I could help it. Complex sentences? Simplified, if it didn’t make the book seem juvenile (remember, I’m writing for young adults and older, 13+ years).

Let’s check out the results…


untitledYA_hemingwayDuringAfter

Just by editing chapter 1, I removed: 15 hard sentences; 18 difficult sentences; 10 adverbs. Not too shabby! I was worried this work would make it feel less like I was writing. Instead, the story feels more compelling.

Things to Keep in Mind with Hemingway App

Compatible with Microsoft Word

Importing a Microsoft Word file is super easy. They have a special import option for this, and the resulting text will match the hierarchy you put in place i.e. headings, bold, italics, and the like. The export back out to a Word file worked as expected. However, I edited in Word on half my screen with the Hemingway App open in the other half screen, because…

Clunky Experience with Large Amounts of Text

The Hemingway app does not like huge chunks of text. I imported my entire Word .docx file, which had over 24000 words. This included everything; chapters I didn’t know if I would use, back cover blurb, elevator pitch, etc.

Editing was tedious, I assume because the app was recalculating every time I made a change. I would hit enter to separate a sentence from a paragraph, and watched the app hang for a couple seconds to catch up to my keystroke. This was upon opening the app, too!

My suggestion is to dual-screen with this app so you can keep moving with your edits. Then, just re-import later to see your improved statistics.

Contractions are Not Your Friend

The Hemingway app thought every contraction (couldn’t, wouldn’t, didn’t) was a misspelled word. I suppose that’s fine, I’m writing historical fiction so contractions are a form of lazy writing, if you ask me. They work fine for dialogue, but probably should not exist in the prose.

Conjunctions are Not Your Friend

If you’re going for an easy reading level, conjunctions (however, but, and) bump the difficulty. Or rather, conjunctions with many adjectives bump the difficulty. I often found myself trying to write a sentence into two separate ones. Then I would lose the meaning I wanted, so I would rewrite the conjunction, and take out the adjectives. This made the Hemingway app happy and removed the highlight.

Conclusion

You don’t have to follow all of the Hemingway App suggestions. I’m going with it because it forces me to write cleaner sentences. I’m pleased with how this app is influencing my rewrite. Let me know how you guys like (or dislike) using this app!

Authorpreneur Business Plan Brainstorm

Authorpreneur desks stay positive!
My desk at work reminds me to stay positive!

Hello! I return after ruminating about writing for months between family stuff, getting engaged(!), and rejoining the swing dance team. I’ve gotten a little breathing room, and my authorpreneur brain is whirring back into gear.

In the midst of it all, I despair over missing my writer’s group meetings, which are direct conflict with the swing dance team practices. I lament over my inability to concentrate on my research in the evenings. Instead I practice choreography, hunt for budget wedding supplies, veg out on Property Brothers and other Netflix necessary evils, and attempt to keep my place clean.

Today, I jump back into the writing world by brainstorming my authorpreneur business plan, which is inspired by Janice Hardy’s Fiction University blog series. Let’s jump right into the authorpreneur business plan brainstorm…

Authorpreneur Goals

What will it take for me to feel successful?

  1. Earning enough book royalties to pay for future books, i.e. current royalties pay for editing, design, publishing, or marketing services or fees for future books
  2. Receiving 25 positive reviews on the Amazon listing (whether print or eBook)
  3. Holding a physical copy in my hands

Why am I doing what I’m doing?

  • This is a creative outlet that balances me mentally and emotionally compared to my other creative outlets
  • This is a learning outlet that exposes me to a greater understanding of my Anglo-majority culture

What are my lines I won’t cross?

  • Smutty material; no sex scenes
  • Gore; egregious violence
  • Private life; only writing-related personal details will be shared

How do I want to improve?

  • Each book should display a stronger craft of writing than its predecessors
  • Each book should showcase better awareness of genre and audience marketing than its predecessors

In summary…

Bright Bird Press intends to spearhead the authorpreneurship and marketing of Belinda Kroll’s fiction. By December 2016, Bright Bird Press intends to earn enough royalties to cover the editing, design, and marketing costs of Kroll’s as yet unnamed book. Each book published will be in print and eBook formats, and will try to meet a minimum 4.5 star average (measured by Amazon.com reviews). Any book published will attempt to gather 25 book reviews within the first twelve months of publication and over fifty reviews by the end of the first three years.

To reach these goals, each book should improve on writing craft compared to previously released books, and Kroll will release one full-length novel every two years. Kroll will maintain a website and blog, post interesting internet finds on Twitter, and will release a newsletter announcing new releases and giveaways.

Bright Bird Press will make decisions toward reaching these monetary and quality goals while also respecting Kroll’s moral standards. Additionally, if a decision is made which puts Kroll’s personal life at risk, she reserves the right to reevaluate her writing career with impunity to reader expectations. Kroll is accessible to fans through her website and select social media accounts; names and stories of her family are to remain private.

Choosing Stories

What are common threads in books you enjoy reading?

  • Young women coming of age in eras where society has high expectations of them; so many apply to today’s society
  • A touch of romance, which either begins between friends, or presumed antagonists who have to join forces
  • This romance would be categorized as sweet; never going beyond kissing on the page
  • A moderate plot pace, which ends in a generally happy, perhaps bittersweet, ending
  • Familiar but distant history in United States and United Kingdom
  • Descriptive, flowing sentences combined with punchy, blunt sentences in moments of severe action

Do I want to be a single-genre author?

  • Yup

What themes touch your passion?

  • External: Father-daughter relationships in a patriarchal society
  • Internal: Trusting your instincts when no one else will
  • Thematic focus: Trust in the self

How long should my books be?

  • Young-adult length novels; 54,000 – 74,000

In summary…

 Belinda Kroll will write Victorian historical novels (or novellas) of between 50,000 and 75,000 words. These historicals will feature sweet romances, where physical contact does not progress beyond kissing on the page. Kroll and Bright Bird Press intend to build a brand where readers can look forward to coming of age stories featuring father-daughter relationships and bittersweet endings.

Kroll’s books will highlight challenges of establishing oneself in the face of an unsympathetic society. These books will explore the theme of trust, specifically the importance of working to trust oneself despite failings and mistakes. Readers should leave each reading experience with a sense of renewed determination to love oneself.

– – –

That’s it so far! I’m looking forward to the next installment in Janice’s series. I’m finding this helpful for me, and I’m curious to see how this influences my writing. I don’t think I realized my writing length has shortened over the years… my first book was a little over 100k and now I’m interested in writing fiction half that length!

My one concern is that heretofore, I’ve been a pantser… all this thinking and plotting and general authorpreneur stuff makes me worry that I’ll lose my creativity by documenting my (existing) constraints. Oh well! We shall see where this takes me.

All the best,
Belinda

Using a (Galaxy Note 8) Tablet to Write a Novel

Looking for an alternative to lugging your laptop around to finish that novel? Frustrated with carrying your phone, your laptop, and your writing journal to make sure you have everything to reference when writing that next chapter? Let me tell you a story about abandoning my laptop, and using my new tablet instead.

Backstory

( Jump to the tutorial» )

The last couple of years I have been traveling many weekends, which used to be my dedicated writing time. The reason for all the traveling was (and is) to attend lindy hop dance exchange and workshop weekends… kind of like mini-conferences about lindy hop dancing technique and methodology.

It’s been a frustrating process, trying to balance my dancing and my writing. Lindy hoppers are pretty obsessive about the hobby… and the culture itself isn’t super forgiving for those who want to dance but also maintain other passions. That said, I’ve been modifying my attendance at dance events (maybe I don’t attend all the classes, and write instead during the day so I’m fresh for the evening fancy dance). I’ve also been modifying the technology I take with me.

researchGermanFactsThe last dance event I attended, I brought my pen+paper notebook, and my smart phone. I did research on my phone in the hotel room while The Boy taught dance classes, and wrote my amnesia character’s backstory in the notebook. It worked out pretty well.

I was excited to be able to do research and get inspiration on the road, and not have to bring an extra bag just for my laptop. We dancers bring at least three pairs of shoes for a weekend, just to give you an idea of how packing works.

But there was a gap. Even though I save my novel drafts to Dropbox (I love their versioning so I can compare differences between first draft and #25), it’s almost impossible to edit a Word docx on a smart phone.

I was determined to not carry my laptop around. But I couldn’t bite the bullet on getting a tablet because they were expensive, I knew I wanted an Android so I could utilize all my apps on my phone, and I wanted one known for handwriting recognition.

Enter my newfangled device, the Galaxy Note 8.

Writing by hand is very important to me. It gives me time to think. So I bought the Galaxy Note 8 because it comes with a stylus designed by Wacom. Those of us who are designers in our day jobs know Wacom is kind of the standard for a good stylus that recognizes pressure, proximity to the screen, etc. I figured if I found a tablet which recognizes my handwriting, I could mimic writing in my journal on the tablet. So far, it’s been pretty awesome.

Using a Tablet to Write a Novel

I created a handy-dandy infographic to illustrate my process, mainly because words can muddy what is otherwise a simple process…

writeNovelonTablet_process

Sync via Dropbox

Ensure your latest draft is on Dropbox, then install the Dropbox app on your tablet.

Immediately save a copy of your file to your actual tablet, in case you are ever without data or wireless. That way you can continue to work if you’re “unplugged.” When you’re done with editing/writing, navigate to your documents folder and share the file back to Dropbox.

I  edit the file using Polaris Office, which apparently can read and edit the docx file format. This is awesome, because I can write and edit whenever I want on a thing that fits in my purse and will sync with my desktop so I’m prepared for the inevitable hours-long, binge-writing session.

* I have found that if I leave the file open, let the device sleep for hours, and then try to continue to work, the cursor jumps all over the place. I had to save the file, close it and the app, and re-open for the cursor to stop freaking out. Which then allowed me to stop freaking out, because for ten minutes I thought I’d have to scrap the entire process.

Build Your Digital Research Library

If you use the Chrome browser, you can install the Evernote browser extension. Makes it super easy to save research, articles, etc across the web. It’s like a scholarly, private Pinterest.

CbusHistory_evernote

Also don’t be afraid to go to the library and take pictures of your research and upload those photos to Evernote. You can literally digitize your entire research journal!

Take Your Research with You

Install the Evernote app on your tablet. A tablet is kind of the perfect size for consuming the research clipped into Evernote due to its large paperback book size (5.5″ x 8″).

Evernote lets you save full PDFs, images, and copies website content so you don’t have all the distracting ads. I love that I can pinch-zoom the large PDF scans of the old Ohio Daily Statesman so I can pull quotes from the local newspaper.

That’s it!

Pretty simple, right? So far it’s working well for me. I like to write on the sofa, in a terrible slouched position, which just doesn’t work with a laptop. Having a tablet I can angle any-which-way to write on and then sync, is awesome.

Best,
Belinda

Worderella’s How to Make a Character Map

Dear Reader,

After giving you a taste of Haunting Miss Trentwood, I thought it would be nice if I showed you one of the many ways I keep track of who I’m writing about, how they relate to one another, etc.

I love pen and paper, and could probably buy out any office supply store in the blink of an eye (that is, if I had unlimited funds, which, thankfully, I do not).

That said, I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that I adore Post-it notes. The image in this post shows how I visualize the love triangle(s) from Haunting Miss Trentwood. I would make the image bigger but then it might spoil some of the plot twists!

You see, dear Reader, this is a sort of map for me. I use this to remind me where tensions occur between characters. I’m color code so I know which character is part of which plot or subplot, and then I draw arrows with visuals to tell me the generics about the relationships.

I was thrilled to read Deanna Raybourn’s blog when she said she does something similar: a collage of images that help inspire her current work-in-progress. I love learning other types of writing exercises that don’t—shock!—require you to write. I need to make things because I am a Maker. I need to use my hands while I’m figuring something out, even something as cerebral as a plot twist. And then after I’ve made the thing, I want to share how I did it. Like this.

How to make a Character Map

  1. Have a crummy day at work.
  2. Have an awesome conversation on Facebook.
  3. Grab a tabloid-sized sheet of paper, multiple colors of small sticky notes, a pen, and a pencil.
  4. Write the names of the main characters on different colors of the sticky notes. Try to group the characters based on their primary plot lines.
  5. Play around with the configuration of the character sticky notes on the page until you can get them to fit, and represent the relationships.
  6. Draw arrows from one sticky note to the other to show direct connections.
    • Use dotted lines to show indirect connections.
  7. Use a pencil because you might make a mistake and try to draw one arrow over another.
  8. To keep the character map legible, try to arrange the stick notes so you won’t have to cross arrows.
  9. Have fun with it! I drew a funny angry face to show antagonists, hearts to show love interests, and broken hearts to show tragedy.
  10. Put the character map somewhere you can glance at when you need inspiration.

I had so much fun with this, I might do it for the relationships I have in my life, and use it as a sort of art piece in my apartment. Or as a way for me to remember who is who at work. Learning the organizational scheme of a new workplace is always so stressful…

All the best,

Belinda

Indie-Publishing Extravaganza

I am a fan of the indie-publisher in the same way that I’m a fan of a lot of indie musicians. It’s a scary thing to put your work out there for others to judge. And as there will always be artists that maybe shouldn’t have released their work, there are authors that shouldn’t release theirs.

But that goes vice-versa, too. There are indie artists who are so good at what they do that they gain fans, word-of-mouth publicity, and possibly even a big label contract, which may or may not be their end goal. Lucky for us, the same thing goes for authors… except there is still a stigma behind “self-publishing.”

Today, I’m listing some useful websites that will help you decide if you want to take that leap into the unknown and become an independently published author.

Indie Publishing Revolution
Maintained by Zoe Winters, a frequent commenter and even a guest blogger here at Worderella Writes. She’s an intense supporter of independent publishing and is doing her best to make sure that you know what you’re getting into if you’re interested in doing the same.

Publetariat
Self-described as an “online community and news hub for the independent author.” The people behind it claim to be experts in editing, marketing, journalism, etc, and are determined to help you make the best product you can. It’s not that you’re “resorting” to independent publishing, it’s that you “choose” to independently publish.

Selling Novels on the Amazon Kindle
A first-hand account from an author who experimented with selling a draft version of his novel on the Amazon Kindle and in e-book format. Very interesting and useful; read the comments to gain more insight as to whether you want to follow a similar path.

CNet’s 25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing
An honest assessment of what you need to know about self-publishing from a man who had to struggle through it the hard way by himself. Read it, learn it, love it.

Book Cover Archive
Not actually a publishing website, but an excellent resource for those of you needing inspiration for your book covers.

Networking for Writers: Crit Partner Match

Hi all, I know I’m disrupting my posting schedule, but this is too cool to pass up. Zoe Winters, our guest blogger today, clued me in on a new networking opportunity that is both fun and useful, too. It’s called Crit Partner Match, and the premise is that it’s like eHarmony.com or Match.com… but for writers looking for a critique partner. I’ve already set up a profile and wrote my introduction in the Historical forum.

So join us at http://critpartnermatch.ning.com/. I hope to see you there, no matter your genre!

And make sure to read Zoe’s wonderful post on changing your mindset so you can acually accomplish your goals.

Urgent Update: Free Writer’s Word Processor Giveaway

For you writers looking for a word processor that caters to you as a writer (i.e. something that isn’t Microsoft Word), you NEED to get over to Giveaway of the Day. For today only they are releasing the Liquid Story Binder, a program made specifically for writers.

Believe me, this thing is amazing. I thought I’d never leave MS Word… it’s my baby. I know more keyboard commands than a person should, I use MS Word that much. But Liquid Story Binder has embedded outline, timeline, and association modules so all of your novel information stays in one program. You can link to mp3’s for a customized playlist as you write. You can embed images so you always know what your setting looks like (for example), and create dossiers for characters. You can have each chapter in a separate file, and Liquid Story Binder is smart enough to link them together for when you print the entire thing out.

Plus, the program is small enough to install on your portable USB drive… so you can literally take all your notes for your novel with you. Outstanding.

There seems to be a slight learning curve, but the chapter outlining and character/chapter timeline modules have me sold. Get your copy now! You only have 18 hrs left by the time I post this entry (9am American Eastern time)!

In other news, I’ve grown tired of my blog and website theme, so I’ve changed it. I didn’t create the blog theme, but I think it’s perfect (for now, haha). I’m still tweaking the website.