by Judith Couchman

Recently I ate lunch with Heather, a former coaching client who became a friend. She talked about an app that helps her learn to write better, catching mistakes and suggesting ways to improve. I recognized Heather’s sincere desire to write well, and that impressed me. Many writers new to the craft want to skip over writing principles and dart straight to publishing and social networking.

Heather felt so excited about this method for improving her manuscript, I couldn’t help but absorb her enthusiasm. Later at home, online I researched writing apps. After typing “Writing Apps” into my browser, the results surprised me. Although apps exist for brainstorming, collaborating, planning, organizing, outlining, reading, and timing writing, not many help an aspiring author actually write well.

As a result, below I’ve listed some apps that help with writing and editing your work. Most likely, more apps exist because I didn’t research deeply. Consider this a “starter list” for apps that might meet your needs. I’ve provided website links so you can learn more. Most are free. Check whether an app operates on your phone, tablet, or desktop.

  • EditMinion. Edits a manuscript a few pages at a time, checking for mistakes, including clichés. Free. http://editminion.com
  • Grammarly. This app does what the name implies: it checks a manuscript for grammar, suggesting the correct wording. Free. grammarly.com
  • Hemingway App. Heather enthused about this app. It aims to simplify, tighten, and strengthen prose in the tradition of the famous writer. $19.99 hemingwayapp.com/desktop
  • Merriam-Webster. Every writer needs a dictionary. This one includes voice searches. Free. https://www.merriam-webster.com/apps
  • ProWriting Aid. ProWriting Aid not only identifies and corrects problems, but it also explains, in detail, why you need to change something. And how to do it. Free for basic; $40 for premium. prowritingaid.com
  • Scrivener. A versatile writing app that helps with many formats: articles, books, blogs, podcasts, speeches and more. $40-45. writersstore.com/scrivener

If you’ve found another app that improves writing, please inform us in the comments section below. Thanks!

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, university professor, and occasional writing coach. Learn more about her at www.judithcouchman.com

 

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Blessed Good Friday to you all from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailgaymermartin.com.

Today is a special day for Christians and since this happens to be my day to share a post on writing, I want to send a message of the joy of the Resurrection which we will once again experience on Easter Sunday.

I have been blessed to have been given an amazing career as a writer of Christian fiction, and in my days of creating stories that I hope will touch your hearts, I have learned so much about writing stories readers can enjoy.

Unless you are a seasoned writer, most people do not  understand the amount of detail and craft that goes into being a writer, and most people do not sell their first novel. I did, but not before it went through “refining fire.”

I knew nothing about writing fiction when I began to write. My first romance novel began with the death of the heroine’s husband, traveled through months of her grief, and on page 102 she met the hero. The book was rejected numerous times until I realized that a romance begins with the meeting of the hero and heroine within the first couple of pages. I also learned a story starts at the point of change—not the husband’s death, but the heroine’s new beginning. With the advice of a few kind writers who knew about writing fiction, I had to cut one-hundred glorious pages from my novel. That made all the difference, but by then the book had been rejected a number of times by most houses.

I had courageously continued to submit books and most of those were sitting on editors’ desks, waiting for rejection. In 1998, I had one new book and submitted it to Barbour Publishing. Within a few months, I heard from them. Though the editors felt that particular book would not work for their readership, they liked my voice and writing style. They asked if I had anything else. I thought of my first novel…just sitting there. I said sure I did and I would get it in the mail right away.

Right away meant doing some serious edits. At that time the completed book was seventy-five thousand words. Barbour accepts only forty-five to fifty-five thousands word count, so I had some serious cutting to do. I had learned so much more about writing by then, and I went through the manuscript tightening the story by removing useless dialogue and scenes that did not move the story forward. I cut a sub-plot and tightened my language. When I’d reached the right page count, I mailed the book in. Within eleven days, SEASONS sold to Barbour Publishing and I became a published author.

My lessons learned is continue to study and improve writing skills by honing the craft, listen to those who know the business, and understanding that tightening a novel can only make it better. Those lessons have reaped great rewards and blessings for me. Now 76 published novels and over 4 million books sold, I conclude that I finally know how to write a good book. It takes time, patience and tons of perseverance.

By improving the craft never ends. I continue to read and study writing techniques and find new ideas for ways to improve my work. Next month, I will cover what I have done when I’ve received the reversion of rights and can now republish my older books for readers who hadn’t read them years ago when they were published. My goal is to use what I have learned to this day and to make my old novels new and improved. I hope you look for this  blog on Revision of Rights.

 

(c) Gail Gaymer Martin 2017

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kathyide

Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about tips for writers based on the manuscripts I edit.

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Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

When people find out I write books for children, their response often goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.” Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy. And the more you learn, the harder it gets! If you are someone who wants to try writing for children, here are a few basic tips on how to get started. Read More →

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Welcome to the CAN Blog from Gail Gaymer Martin @ www.gailgaymermartin.com. Today I decided to talk about one way my writing has changed in the past few years. Although I wrote about places I knew, I didn’t worry about accuracy and often I used a fictitious location so I didn’t have to worry about accuracy.

Writing Fiction Using Real Locations

But over time, I learned if I want to write real, I needed to visit the location of my novel. While creating a fictitious location can be easier, I’ve found that fans love to read about real places since they often relate to them as a place they lived or visited. I’ve also learned real places offer bonuses as I researched.

 

Bonus 1 -Realistic Details

My writing is known for realistic characters and locations that bring my stories to life. For the last few years, I’ve used real towns for my novels. When I use a fictitious street or home description, I usually pattern it after one that is real. By researching real location, authors can take photos, note impressions, involve the senses and later can recall their reaction and experience. This can add reality to their novels. When I do Internet research, the photos and information also come to life.

Bonus 2 – Simulating Plot Ideas

While researching a town, authors can learn town history, sights, events and activities that help stimulate story ideas. Recently, I spent two days in the small town of Owosso. Though a lifelong resident of Michigan, I’ve never had reason to visit this mid-state town. My publisher, Love Inspired, enjoys stories set in rural areas and small towns, making Owosso perfect. This town has its own castle, built by a 1920s novelist, James Curwood, to use as his writing sanctuary.

With children in some of my novels, learning about Owosso’s three Playscape venues was a find. Two of these areas provide a kid’s splash pool, slides, swings, rock wall, rope brides, a pavilion and gazebo.  One Playscape is located at the DeVries Nature Conservatory and gives children opportunities to study nature in a hands-on activities. Owosso also has a sled hill for winter fun. The town has a Steam Railroading Institute, an art gallery, a conference center, sleigh museum, community actors and theater, numerous community festivals and events, and a nearby town that has a historic village.  People can roller skate, bowl and shop in a four street area, and the town is filled with restaurants and churches. All of these features triggered ideas for novels in the Lilac Circle Series.

Bonus 3 – Making Contacts

The Chamber of Commerce is the location of the woman who is in charge of all city events. She graciously took me on a tour of some of the cities features. We drove through residential areas where I located the street I called Lilac Circle, featuring characters from my series. We went to the nearby town of Corunna to visit their Playscape in McCurdy Park where characters will find Sled Hill, the historic village and the county Courthouse which is part of the first book, Unexpected Mommy, a 2015 release. Through my contact I learned about holiday events and their details, such as: Christmas, Easter egg hunt, 4th of July celebration and other unique city festivals and celebrations.

I also learned the local newspaper is privately owned and is open to carrying local articles that would interest the town’s residence. I am hopeful I can receive some press when my book series is released. Another contact was the Owosso Bookstore where they are interested in carrying my books when released. I offered to do a book signing.  These personal contacts provide individuals to call for answers to question not found through research.

Bonus 4 – Tax Deductible

The cost for a research trip is travel expenses which are tax deductible. The benefits are high: realism, idea stimulation, contacts and the ability to feel, taste, touch, smell, hear and see the location of your story.

Yes, you can fabricate a town, and you must if it’s speculative, but visiting a town is a far greater investment especially for contemporary fiction, as well as historical fiction which is heightened by walking the fields of Gettysburg, exploring a real plantation, seeing migrant workers and where they live. How can a writer imagine looking at Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or riding in a gondola on the Grand Canal without experiencing it? I have, and so could you.

(c) Gail Gaymer Martin 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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