Hello, once again! I have returned from the other side of my room to write another post, and this time I will be doing something I am most likely unqualified to do.
Have you ever struggled writing? Can’t get through the painful process of editing and revising, or do you ever get writer’s block? Maybe you have an awesome idea, but you just cannot get it down on paper. While I cannot hope to address every problem we face as writer’s, these past few months and my tenure on this blog have allowed me to alleviate the meticulous cycle of getting words on a blank piece of paper and having them look presentable.
What are some ways to look for mistakes while editing?
First and foremost, I could just tell you to install Grammarly and get done with it. It will look for some errors and make suggestions for fixes, and also explain why you need that comma or why your choice of words may not be as effective. There’s a premium version that is infinitely more powerful, but the free version is more than helpful. You can install it as an extension for your browser, for Word, and even as its own application. However, you will need an Internet connection, which may or may not be detrimental.
Also, pro (but not really) tip: DO NOT solely use Word’s grammar check, and ESPECIALLY NOT WordPress’ (heh).
One thing I need to add is to not only look at Grammarly for applications that assist you in editing. Another one that compliments it very well is the Hemingway Editor, which is also free of charge unless you desire to use the desktop app. Chopping down on unnecessary words and making your sentences concise is something to strive for, and this app indicates just that. Are some of your sentences hard to read? Hemingway will tell you that, but it’s up to you in figuring out how to do that.
Another way to alleviate this process is to read your writing aloud. You will find words that are missing, words that are misplaced, and words that just sit there awkwardly. Look for proper verb tense as well, and ensure that you understand everything that is on your paper. If you have trouble following along with your own work, then others will inevitably get lost. Along with this, saying words aloud can help you write more effectively to achieve the same benefit while writing and before editing.
I have a great idea; where do I begin to write?
Let’s pretend you have a great idea for some sort of story, or blog post, or essay. You have the outline in your head: this is Point A, which will lead to Point B, which will all culminate in Point C. The problem is how these points will connect in a fluid and meaningful way.
Having a plan is only one step of the journey, but one piece of advice is to just write. Thinking an idea to death is one way to just disappoint yourself after you start, while overplanning may prove to be a burden if you get new ideas that may not fit in as seamlessly. (This is a great way to combat writer’s block!) If the latter case is true, you may have to stick to your current plans and abandon a good idea. Ambition is a great thing while writing, but you can only have so much content before you overstay your welcome.
(Knowing that the rest of this article does not address writer’s block, another way to combat it is to go out for a walk, and also to just go out in the world and not focus on your ideas. Who knows, maybe you’ll get an epiphany in an unexpected place?)
There have been countless times where I have seen people (as well as myself) make excellent pieces, but they ramble on after their point is proven. Avoiding this is key, as beating a dead horse will just bore everyone. Trimming down on ideas is a key to writing, and can furthermore lead to a better understanding of what you are going to write. This also holds true to ideas that seem to have merit but stick out like a sore thumb. (ex. a horror themed chapter in an adventure novel) These could work, but make sure you always evaluate consistency.
As I stated above, just writing is the best place to start. Hooking your audience early on with whatever is relevant to your piece (ex. the theme of your novel, represented by some symbolism) is a great way to generate interest, and you want whatever is introduced to carry on and develop throughout your piece. Don’t just have an amazing introduction and then backtrack, as people can and will lose interest partway through your piece.
This carries on to my final point: do not fluctuate in quality. Always revise and edit, and revisit earlier parts of your piece. There may be something that you have set up that you forgot about, and it is easier to alleviate this sooner rather than later when changing your piece could throw everything off-balance. This especially holds true to pacing, which I can discuss in a future post as I have quite a bit to say about that.
Although I said that was my final point, make sure you read constantly! Creativity is a beautiful thing, but focus and purpose are what makes it special. Always analyze how things in a novel or movie or whatever work, and why something is good or bad. What is detrimental, and what is an aid? This can work with mediums that are beyond words on a sheet, but the craftsmanship of writing is still present in a speech or even a video game. (This is from experience. I read 1984 two and a half years ago and that elevated my mark in English quite a bit)
Of course, I am no expert. Take my advice as you will, and tell me if you liked this post! I would be happy to make more articles in this vein, especially on topics with a more specific and fine-tuned approach. Keep reading and writing, and make sure you take pleasure in it! Out of everything, feeling obliged to do something will not yield the best results.
And no, I did not feel obliged to make this post. 🙂