There are basic tools essential to composing a grand opus.
A DictionaryA physical dictionary is acceptable, but on-line access is far more efficient. Dictionary.com serves well.
True story: A politician (2020), in the midst of a soaring endorsement, declared a compatriot, "a mendacious individual of the highest order." Sounds breathtaking and inspiring... except... mendacious means he's a habitual liar, and while the statement was true, it wasn't the speaker's intention to out him. He liked the sound of the word, but was ignorant of it.
You may have some words in your lexicon that you rarely use—perhaps never in daily conversation—that you introduce to spice up your exposition or dialogue, as you should. They sound impressive, but... are you sure of their precise meaning?
A ThesaurusLike a dictionary, a physical thesaurus is helpful, but on-line access is so much easier you're likely to use it more often. Thesaurus.com, sibling to Dictionary.com, is user friendly.
How many times do you have a character walk across the room? Why not stroll, stomp, saunter, strut, any of which better descibes their motion without [using, enlisting, employing] an adverb? Thesaurus.com [lists, itemizes, offers] 25 alternates for walk, and 12 for walking. Here's the 56 synonyms to walked.
There was a time a writer would never use a noun, verb, or adjective twice in a paragraph. But, sometimes you must and sometimes you're forced to for effect. However, if all that your characters do is look at each other and their surroundings—he looked steadily, he took a quick look, he looked around the corner—and never stare, glance, or peek, you'll fall into adverb hell and your writing will be... [boring, tedious, humdrum, monotonous, lifeless, stale, stodgy, tiresome, uninteresting?]
I'll choose lifeless to make my point.
About PlagiarismIt's been said that if you copy one source it's plagiarism, but if you copy many sources, it's research. It's the word copy that makes the joke.
Legal advice cannot be offered by IQ140. Seek legal counsel if quotes from copyrighted material are included in your manuscript. Here are a few starter questions to ask your attorney:
Avoiding Data LossMany writers have wound up poised on rooftop ledges due to complete loss of their manuscript. Okay, that's hyperbole, but if you've ever lost a large file due to a computer crash, fire, flood, theft, or a stupid, "I don't believe I just deleted that," error, it sure feels that way.
Here's a protocol that will ensure file retention, protect the integrity of those files, and allow resurection of characters and scenes deleted in earlier rewrites:
Programs and Application for WritingMicrosoft Word, MSWord, is not perfect, but it is the industry standard. If you choose not to use it, then Apache OpenOffice word processor, a free analog to MSWord, is a viable option.
When working with editors, agents, and publishers, the majority will request documents in MSWord format: .DOCX, though the earlier .DOC may also be acceptable.
The word processor you employ must support Track Changes which is a collaborative feature allowing an author and editor to work on a manuscript document, passing modifications between the two. This is sufficiently essential that a brief tutorial is provided: How to use Track Changes.
Other than MSWord: Schrivener, Grammarly, Dabble, GoogleDocs, Draft, WriteRoom for MAC, ProWritingAid, AutoCrit, Hemingway, iA Writer, and LivingWriter are just a few writing tools. Google: programs and applications for writing for links to, discussions about, and prices of each.
A compare and contrast is beyond the scope of IQ140. We prefer an undistracted writing space, but recognize that many writers find the additional organizational tools of these application integrate well with their writing style, and suggest research with an emphasis on reviewing the experiences of other users.
Commentary: Some of you, perhaps your children or grandchildren, came of age with the availability of the hand calculator. The debate: should young students be made to memorize addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables—as previous generations were—or be allowed to use calculators in class and on tests? Today, it's common to observe people at the check-out line wrestle verifying their change on a purchase ending in .88 when paying in even dollars.
There are fundamental, foundational, core disciplines for which mastery is not an option. When writing, those who know grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary rather than have a program do it for them, are writers with greater creativity, flexibility, and agility.
DisclaimerMention of products or web resources does not constitute an endorsement. This information is provided for your convenience and it is strongly recommended that you research the applicability, usability, stability, reliability, and affordability of these systems for your purposes.
© 2021, Robin D. Ader. All rights reserved.