Posted in Did You Know ?, Editor's Toolkit, From The Editor's Desk, Writing

Master Outlining & Tracking for your novel

I just finished editing the second novel in the Bayou Talents series for Edward Branley, Trusted Talents.  As I am wont to do after finishing edits, I take stock on how I can help my clients streamline the process and make it smoother.

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Trusted Talents has so *many* characters, I decided to try to create a spreadsheet to keep track of who they are, how they fit in the story, their quirks, their nicknames, and any other details that I think would be important, especially NAME CHANGES in the middle of the story.

Well, that got me down a rabbit hole pulling my hair out and drinking lots of coffee late at night (does no good for me when my HS Sophomore needs to be at zero period at 6:45 am and I get up at 5:15 am).  I am not an Excel expert by any means, I can do basic sum functions and that’s about it. So, cut to the next morning when I was more awake and able to focus. I used my Google-fu powers and found a few different Excel spreadsheets that did what I was looking for already and all I had to do was test them out and see if it worked well for me.

The one I wound up liking and using is from Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll’s “Master Outlining and Tracking Tool for Novels (MOTT) “.

I started with the tab labeled ‘Character List’ and page one of the Trusted Talents novel from Edward.  I input all the characters and the formulas that are built into the pages (Remember that I am NO Excel expert) was a lovely touch to make the spreadsheet fill out faster.

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Screenshot of Character List Tab

A couple things that I really liked was when I sorted by first name, you could see that there are way too many names starting with a certain letter, and how many characters have names that are similar (Davey, David).

I sent what I had worked on to Edward, to see what he thought, and he realized that Brooks Stirling Sumner (Silver)’s grandfather had two names in the novel. Remember up there when I said NAME CHANGES in the middle of the book? He was listed as both Robert Duncan Sumner and Grantland Sumner.

Now, I think of myself as being very attuned to that, but I admit even I missed that name change.  This set-up made it easier to fix and find the mistake with a global search and replace function in the master document.

I have started on Edward’s newest novel, Dragon’s Defiance (Book 3 in the Blood-Bound Series) and from first read, had a new spreadsheet set up to start on page 1. What a difference this will make in my editing, and my clients writings.  I highly recommend this.

I’ve only used the Character List tab at this time, but  I can see how much more you could do with this spreadsheet – from the Character Genealogy Tab  (one of my other passions on the side), to the Word Count Tracker (great for authors trying to hit a certain word count per day or per week to finish their novel), and the Scene List.

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Word Count Tracker courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

In the updated Version 2.0, which I just downloaded, there is the Cards Tab (sort of my old way of writing papers in high school and college with index cards delineating all the scenes/main ideas.) This one is automated, so if you use the Scene List, it pulls the information from that.

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Cards Tab

The Chapters Tab in Version 2.0 will give you a visual graph of how word count length and number of scenes per chapter.

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Chapter Words and Scene Count courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

I’m a firm believer if you have various tools and processes in place, it helps you focus on what you need to do, which is write! (Or in my case, EDIT!) Don’t be afraid to use tools that are already out there to make your process easier. One does not have to reinvent the wheel. You can tweak something that is created to match what you need.

Until next time… Don’t fear the red pen!

Posted in Editor's Toolkit, Language, Writing

The Editor’s Toolkit: OneLook Reverse Dictionary

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Have you ever been stuck for a word?  The meaning is clear in your head, but you can’t grasp the word you want? I am sure you have said, it’s on the tip of my tongue. This happens to everyone at some point. As a writer, an editor, a student, or just in everyday writing — you get frustrated and start pulling out your hair.  This is where OneLook Reverse Dictionary can help you (and me, when I edit!)


How does it work?

OneLook explains it best, so I took this screenshot for you.

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How OneLook Reverse Dictionary works.


Editor’s Advice

Keep your search short to get the best results. OneLook indexes online dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, and other reference sites for your search term returning  conceptually similar words.  They suggest utilizing only the first few terms, since it comes back with hundreds sometimes, as seen in the screenshot below where I searched for urge to travel.

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OneLook Reverse Dictionary search results on urge to travel”.

Pick the word you want, for example, Wanderlust. When you click on it, dictionary definitions from multiple sources will come up, including the  Online Etymology Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionaries, UltraLingua English Dictionary, Mnemonic Dictionary, and RhymeZone.

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Wanderlust definitions


Categories

The list you get back is broken up into Categories: General, Art, Business, Computing, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Religion, Science, Slang, Sports, Tech, and Phrases. I really like the Phrases category.

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Broburn Wanderlust. Serial BAPC.233. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Berkshire Aviation.

Doing this search, I learned a phrase that includes wanderlust is Broburn Wanderlust  which was a small, wooden, single-seat glider designed in the United Kingdom just after World War II. Only one was built in 1946, and it flew in 1947.

 

 

 

The Wanderlust is a single seat sailplane of wooden construction, with a cantilever shoulder-wing. The wing is covered with ply from the leading edge as far as the spar, aft of which it is fabric covered. Fitted along the whole span are aerofoil section flaps, which are split at about half span so that the outer section scan act as flaps or drooping ailerons. Accommodation in the cockpit is roomy and the pilot’s head is raised well above the wings and fuselage under a Perspex hood. A seat type parachute is provided, with a radio as possible additional equipment. Novel use has been made out of a cut motorcycle inner tube encased in canvas to provide an inflatable shock absorber. 

– The Museum of Berkshire Aviation

Be sure to check out the other Editor’s Toolkit posts including The Punctuation Guide, and the Hemingway App. Hope you will come back for what’s upcoming the rest of the week, as I highlight what else is in my Editor’s Toolkit.

Know of other useful writing apps that aren’t included here? Let me know about them on Twitter!

Posted in Editor's Toolkit, Language, Writing

The Editor’s Toolkit: Hemingway App

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Ernest Hemingway photo courtesy of Yousuf Karsh

Ernest Hemingway‘s writing style is known almost instantaneously by most readers. It is distinctive, recognizable, and influential. Critics believe his style was honed during his time being a cub reporter in Kansas City.  Using short, rhythmic sentences, and selecting only those elements essential to the story, he created a clean style that works with having a journalistic background.

Featured today in my Editor’s Toolkit, the Hemingway App.

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The Hemingway App

The Hemingway App shows you what is wrong with your writing in a clear and easy-to- follow method. Overly long sentences show up in yellow. Adverbs appear in blue. Words or phrases that can be simplified, purple. Green indicates passive voice. And red sentences are very hard to read.

Writer Ian Crouch of The New Yorker took Hemingway’s own writing and put it through the Hemingway App.  The opening paragraph from Hemingway’s short story,”A Clean, Well-Lighted Place“, only scored Grade 15 (OK).

It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him.

 

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“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” opening paragraph on Hemingway App. Image courtesy of Dara Rochlin Book Doctor.

I hope this allows you to see how you can utilize different tools and websites to make your writing stronger and more concise.  Be sure to check out the other Editor’s Toolkit posts including The Punctuation Guide and the OneLook Reverse Dictionary. Come back for what’s upcoming the rest of the week, as I highlight what else is in my Editor’s Toolkit.

Feel free to let me know what is in your Editor’s Toolkit in the comments and I will mention you if it becomes part of the series.

Know of other useful writing apps that aren’t included here? Let me know about them on Twitter!

Posted in Editor's Toolkit, punctuation

The Editor’s Toolkit: The Punctuation Guide

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alphabet soup cartoon courtesy of Amanda Patterson

Do you ever wonder what really goes on behind the scenes and on the screens of an editor? How many different webpages and reference materials we use to get your book publication perfect?  Hopefully, you’ve seen my previous blog post on What’s on Your Bookshelf – highlighting my  go-to reference books.

Piggybacking on that, I thought I would  show you part of my Editor’s Toolkit.  What is an Editor’s Toolkit you may be asking? It is those websites that help me do my job, and perhaps show you something new and different that you don’t know.

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The Punctuation Guide

First, on this tour of the Editor’s Toolkit, The Punctuation Guide.  I like this web app because it has an easy-to-use interface, and clear guidelines. If you are not a writer, and a student in English class, it will also help you understand how and when to use an em-dash (—), an en-dash (–), or a hyphen (-), for instance.

Primarily for American English (AmE), and not British English (BrE); however, it has a section under “Other Matters” entitled  British versus American Style.

The Punctuation Guide also brings together punctuation rules from different style guides: MLA, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the Associated Press Stylebook.

Remember… Punctuation Saves Lives. 

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Let’s Eat Grandma!  Lets eat, Grandma!

Be sure to check out the other Editor’s Toolkit posts including the Hemingway App and the OneLook Reverse Dictionary.

Know of other useful writing apps that aren’t included here? Let me know about them on Twitter!