Top 5 Reasons to Write with Pen and Paper

Summer is here, and I love to be outside. Even, or maybe especially, when I’m writing. I don’t want to take the beautiful days for granted. Now some of my friends laugh when I say that because I spend winters in the Bahamas, but I grew up as a Canadian conditioned that summer days are precious and not to be wasted. Do we ever forget lessons drilled into us when we were children?

The computer is usually my place of writing. The words may work their way onto a piece of paper, but somehow the scene doesn’t seem written until I type it in. Maybe that’s weird, but hey, everyone should be allowed a little weirdness now and then.

Top 5 reasons to write with paper and pen:

  1. Practice spelling – no cheating with spell checker.
  2. Create scene descriptions through doodling and drawing.
  3. Make notes in side margins when an idea strikes.
  4. Don’t get interrupted by social media – no announcements of email, FB messages, etc to distract you.
  5. Burn paper if writing is really terrible – this is particularly satisfying.

Does your imagination get sparked by using a new medium?

Thanks for reading . . .

Can You Proofread to Perfection?

And should you try?

If you’re  submitting your manuscript to your agent, publisher, editor, or beta readers, absolutely. If you’re interested in the process  I use for this, click here.

But what if you’re proofreading your blog before posting?

Maybe you could give yourself a break. I think the occasional typo is okay. Usually a kind reader will point out an error, sometimes even via a private email. The beauty of the blog versus a novel: it’s easy to update after publication.

I usually thank the person who pointed out my error, update the blog immediately, and move on.

Four steps to get close to perfection:

  1. Read once before posting draft.
  2. Read a preview version. Somehow seeing the blog in the format it will be posted helps me see it differently, and I usually pick up a typo or two.
  3. Read the blog out loud or have the computer read it to me. Then I can hear the error if my eye refused to see it.
  4. If I have the time, I let some time pass and read the blog again before I hit the publish button.

Just remember, we all makes mistakes and a typo isn’t one to lose sleep over.

Do you have any tricks for quickly eliminating typos?

Thanks for reading . . .

Scrivener and Scene Summaries

Do you keep track of your scenes? Do you summarize what’s in a scene. I used to use a spreadsheet exclusively to do this until I discovered I can use Scrivener. (I still use a spreadsheet for a more complete list that I can sort.)

In Scrivener, for each scene I note:

  • Chapter Number
  • Name of Scene
  • Point of View
  • Point of Scene
  • Tension
  • Revelation
  • Hook – ask yourself: why would a reader keep reading?
  • Character introduction and description
  • Date and Time of Day
  • Scene Description
  • Scene Dependency
  • Other – anything I want to remember. This could be a scene I want to add later. A description that needs updating. Just little reminders I still have word to do.

How does this relate to Scrivener, you ask?

I created a template in Scrivener by copying the relevant cells from and Excel spreadsheet and pasting them into a newly created template in Scrivener.

Then for each scene I insert the template underneath and to the right of the scene so I have the template linked to each scene. As I review each scene, I fill out the template. If I can’t fill out a line then I know I have work to do.

You can choose to compile the scene template with your novel or leave it out. If I’m printing a draft version, I might print the scene template so I can work on paper for a while. If I’m compiling and I only want the novel, I unclick the Include-In-Compile button.

It’s fun to discover new techniques to work with. Always, always learning . . .

Do you have information you keep track of for each scene that helps you make the scene better?

Thanks for reading . . .

I wrote a blog with my review of the Scrivener software that might help…

Proofreading: Choosing a Better Word

During the final proofreading of a novel, a writer can be tempted to change a word, deciding another word is better. I try not to cave to the temptation at this stage, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

One thing I’ve learned while proofreading is that I need to be very careful during the final reading. It’s easy to introduce a typo, but worse, what if the new word doesn’t fit with the surrounding text?

How to I test this?

First, I replace the word. Then I read the entire scene to determine if it sounds right in the whole context. I often find that I’ve chosen a word already written in a paragraph before or after the one I’ve just altered.

The word change might sound better or it might not, but without testing the scene I wouldn’t know.  To make the process faster, I could search for the word, to find out if it’s anywhere near, but I still think it’s worth reading the scene to make sure the change makes the story better.

Are there things you look out for in the final proofing?

Thanks for reading . . .

Can a Ruler Help You Proofread?

I’m fascinated by how difficult it is to proofread my work. Why can’t my eye see if on the page instead of reading of – that’s not really there?

What does a ruler have to do with proofreading? Let’s call it the new tool in my toolbox.

When I think my work is ready to send to my agent, I print the final copy and read it, line by line, very slowly.

I place the ruler underneath each line as I read it. This forces my eye not to stray forward to the next line. The ruler stays in place until I’ve read every word.

Out of 80,000 words, I found five typos. They were:

–       a missing quote

–       a missing word (had)

–       a missing period at the end of a sentence

–       you’re instead of your

–       color instead of colour

I don’t think I would have found the mistakes without the ruler. This may seem like a lot of work for just 5 errors, but I believe in sending my best work out. If I don’t take is seriously, why would anyone else?

Do you have any proofreading tips you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading . . .