Writing Tools

September 25, 2015 hollie8985 Writing Adventures

Writing tools for many are simply a spell checker and thesaurus. They can extend far beyond that, your beta readers and of course, your editors. But, what can we do as authors, and not just new ones like me, to improve our own toolboxes?

The uncomplicated answer is to look to those who have more experience than we do. Although you can’t learn from another’s mistakes, you can learn from their success. The single biggest step I have made forward was to join Romance Writers of America, so I’m British, it doesn’t change how much an organization like RWA can help and support romance authors.

I joined, The End, which is a monthly writing challenge, it also sends emails with hints and tips from published authors. Often little things they have picked up or experienced that help with their writing. It ends most of my writing days positively and that can never be a bad thing.

I also joined a couple of online chapters, both run writing classes taught by experienced writers or editors. I have already completed one, it wasn’t what I expected it to be, it didn’t teach what I was lead to believe it would. I did manage to pick up some things that will be useful with my next book. There is always a silver lining, I may not have got the classes I wanted, but classes were still taught in a subject that I only have a little knowledge.

I plan to do a second chapter class starting the beginning of October, both of these classes are information classes about a writing subject, not writing skills. In some ways are limited by the knowledge and experience of the person running the class. I think what I’m saying is, while these type of classes are important, do research your tutor, make sure they are offering the experience and knowledge you want, not just a subject title you’re interested in.

Writing skills and self-editing is more complicated. Each publishing house has its own style as does every author and there is the never-ending grammar vs style debate.

I am just over half way through an editing course, Before you Hit Send, run by Angela James. Angela is very good at what she does she is patient and kind, even when you get things mixed-up, she has a way of telling you without making you feel bad. The course is intense and to do properly, hard work, It covers everything from basic grammar to deep point of view and changing point of view within writing. I would advise anyone, author or editor, to take the course either as a learning tool or as a refresher. I took the course a few years ago when I was beta reading, doing it again now, looking at my own work. It’s an awful lot harder.

There are also a number of very good books published, that help with both writing and editing skills. I have found a few I really like, they are again simple easy to follow and explain why the authors think what they do about situations. The Writer’s Craft series by Rayne Hall and The Writers helping Writers series of three thesaurus’s by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  As with classes, do a little research, don’t waste money because the title is what you want, download a sample make sure it is helping you in the area you need help.

Why I am doing all of this now, before I’ve even finished the second draft? That answer is simple, a lot of the things that need changing or editing out, you can learn not to put in to start with, or can be approached from the second draft.

Editing isn’t just about making sure all the commas are in place. It’s about making sure your work is clean, your writing is tight and smooth, you have shown your readers what happens to your character, not told them about it. That all comes into your editing process, it doesn’t matter if you’re submitting to a publisher or self-publishing, you still want your manuscript to be as polished and as shiny as you can make it, because either way you’re trying to impress someone and asking them to buy your writing.

AuthorsBefore you hit sendEditingpublishingRomanceRWAself-publishingThe EndWriters craftWriters helping writerswriting

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