The Helping Hand


I’m lazy.

Shocked?  Why should you be?  I can’t seem to write steadily in my blog these days and don’t ask about the state of my house.  Hell, I can’t even eat on a regular basis because of how much effort it takes to pull myself from the computer and my current project.  So take it from me, I have the tendency to be lazy.  I like being a bum when I’m not working because I get to be one rarely.

A part of this laziness comes from the hope of finding some type of software to make it easier so I can be even more lazy with my writing.  I’ve tried quite a few though I don’t believe I’ve tried them all.  There are two types of software for us writers that we run to:

Writing Development

English: The free P2P software program FrostWi...

These do precisely as the title suggests, helps you develop it.  One in particular that I have is called The Writers‘ Dreamkit which helps you with prompts and genre layout and so forth.  You know, the cookie cutter book.  It has an interesting interface, helps with character development, but probably the most useful aspect I found from it was the reports that it printed out for each of the story ideas I attempted to put into it.

Needless to say, I used it only three times that I can recall.

Editors

Microsoft Word

This is more wide range than the development category simply because it ranges from Microsoft Word or any text editor (a necessary requirement for Writers because agents and publishers don’t want a hand written manuscript) to the grammar editors.  I won’t bother with the text editors because they are well known.  Grammar editors, unfortunately, is a necessity for me.  The reason?  Well, because due to the military and where/when I moved I actually missed taking the initial grammar lessons that are given in school.  I’ve managed to shore up my knowledge quite a bit on my own, but honestly don’t ask me to explain the difference between a prepositional phrase and a conjuncture.  Just not that savvy.

So I’ve tried out more of these than of the Writing Development software bundles.  In 2010 I found one that actually does a great job for what I need it for.  It’s called StyleWriter.  I’m not kidding, this program rocks… and it should for the price of it.  Only get it if you really, really, really need it.  You know, if you’re like me.

What makes this wonderful program different from other editors like WhiteSmoke for example is that it’s not just for writing in general, you can specify if your piece is fiction, an essay, an article…name it, it will edit appropriately for the type of writing it was for (though I found it less helpful for my essays in college, but that’s me).

This neat feature may seem to be unnecessary to  many people, especially those who have taken classes or have jobs that specifically deal with editing the English language on a regular basis, but a hard lesson I learned a few years ago is that grammar for fiction writing is completely different than writing in general.  There are rules for dialog that I didn’t know exist.  There are rules for commas that frankly baffle me.

When I found this out I wanted to smack my head against the keyboard as I realized that not only do I have to struggle with basic grammar for every day stuff, now I have remember a whole new style guide????

Cue swearing creatively.

In steps StyleWriter, less pressure on me and it points out the things I need to work on such as ‘that the’ phrase which has a very annoying habit of cropping up into my writing.  I was oblivious to this fact until StyleWriter pointed it out with dark red text and an underline.

My point, however, is that while I agree, sending your stuff to an editor is a great idea (helped me tons) it is also a good idea to have a software program with a sophisticated grammar editing to it go through your writing before you send it to the editor so you can fix the annoying bits and the editor can focus on the really important stuff like how to make your intro really awesome.

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