I firmly believe that the gods of writing allows the average person to write fast, lots and well, but they can only pick one. Very talented people can write fast, lots and well, but they can only pick two. I write fast and lots, but at the expense of the occasional word salad and sentences that start out with me saying one thing and ends Houston is far away. (Saying another thing entirely.)
And there are things you can do to fix this. I start a novel never quite sure what the novel is going to be about, figure it out at about the three quarter mark, then go back once I’ve finished it and rewrite it from the start as though I’d had the ending in mind the whole time. My super secret this is how you write is to write as though the antagonistic forces have had a plan from the very beginning to stop the main character from getting what they want, but the main character and I figure out together what’s at stake, what’s the cost of failure, what the success is going to cost and whether or not they’re willing to pay the price.
Combine that with the Frost Giant technique, which is every time nothing is happening you think about what the worst thing that could possibly happen actually happens and all the main character’s well planned out plots gets fed through the garborator and they now need to deal with their new change in fate. You would think that this would feel incredibly random and out of the blue, but once I started to trust my subconscious, things that seemed completely random at the time suddenly align perfectly. Once the rewrite is done, I leave it for six months and then edit it, and that helps a huge amount, too. But then instead of editing it after the six months, I go ahead and do a complete rewrite so I’m right back to dealing with hot copy.
When I edit for other people, I can see the mistakes from pen paces away. Most of the time when I’m given a piece to edit, it doesn’t need to be line edited because there are still massive issues with the plot that need to be sorted, so giving them a line critique is a waste of my time and theirs. For all the critique that I’ve done, there have only been a couple pieces that were worth reading at the sentence level, but I can do it. 90% of the time line edits just mean cutting out the words that clog up a sentence unnecessarily. I don’t feel comfortable putting words into the sentence, but cutting them out doesn’t try to change what the author is saying.
With my own stuff, though, it’s a completely different story. My eye “fixes” typos, missing words, wrong words, and word salad to what it should be. Read it out loud, you should be saying. You’ll be able to hear it. Yeah, no. My eye fixes it before I read it out loud so I can never *see* what I’ve actually said. I can have a computer program read it back to me and that helps as well, but it’s incredibly time consuming and I again just want to rewrite the whole thing and again, I’m back to hot copy.
Enter editing software. I have had great editors work with me. I want them to focus on the big picture edits and not get caught up on the horrible word choices, but in order for that to happen I need to scrub the draft to the nth degree. Line editors and copy editors clean up the content edits. Of all the issues at the sentence level, I have two major issues. One is unclear antecedents which is really hard to do when you’re writing gay smut and everyone’s a he and repetition. I signed up for Whitesmoke, which was beyond frustrating and autocrit, which had a lot of potential but having to use the web interface was frustrating and stripped out my italics. Since language is part of the plot in my story, discussing the words themselves uses a lot of italics, which get completely lost. It also took a long time to enter in new lines of text which left me using symbols I’d search and replace rather than waiting 30 seconds per new line. Grammarist did a review of Grammarly, the only program I thought that had a plug in for Office Word, and the review said it didn’t catch 70% of the errors and with the plug in for word it was 150 dollars a year. Whitesmoke was 80, Autocrit was 120, but they all frequently had discounts available. Whitesmoke and Grammarly weren’t worth it at any price even though they occasionally had 60-80% off. I paid 47 dollars for Autocrit and was happy with what I’d paid for it.
Enter Prowritingaid. When I saw the pricing, it was fairly typical for what the others had been, 30 bucks a month, 40 for two months, 70 for four months and 120 dollars a year. Then I took a closer look at it. 30 for the *year*. 120 dollars for a lifetime membership. I was gobsmacked. Nothing is worth anything if it doesn’t work for you, though, and it came with a 14 day money back guarantee. I don’t make any money off recommending people and if you want to get any of them you should google and read the reviews before making a choice, but I need a program that tells me when I’d just used a word because I cannot see that on my own whether someone holds a gun to my head or will give me a bunny to play with. It has nothing to do with motivation, My eye only sees what it wants to see, and this helps enormously. Most of these companies make their money selling to companies where money is not much of an object, but to a starving artist, using an add-on for Word based on a subscription base should never cost more than the subscription to word itself.
If I had a choice between writing flawless prose and saying nothing with it or telling a gripping tale with grammatical issues in it, I’d rather play the hand I was dealt. In Boston at Worldcon during a “things beginning (pro) writers need to know, Patrick Nielsen Hayden said he could tell when a novel had been workshopped. The unworkshopped book would have the occasional typo and fragment, but the story pulled the reader along. The workshopped book might have been perfectly written prose, but would have much more troublesome problems. The first would say “An elephant charged the main character” while the workshopped story would read “An elephant, the largest land mammal found in Africa and other tropical countries, charged at the main character.
You can tighten up prose. It’s a lot harder to add in conflict that isn’t already there. I’m deliberately not going to go back and edit this entry.