Rules, Righting and Writing Aids


Rules, rules, rules and more rules. Writing is a barrage of rules. Or is it? I added the use of a writing aid to aid my writing. I am learning the pros and cons of using it effectively and sparingly. The intended purpose at its extreme is to rid your writing of current faux pas, spelling errors and grammatical missteps. We all think we write good until a writing aid tells us we’ve done it in a manner in which it does not agree. (And yes, I ran this through the writing aid and it did not catch the glaring error that you are gasping at right now, so I left it in.)

A writing aid goes way beyond the capabilities of the spellcheck/grammar checker in a word processing program. I begin with the basic check of grammar, spelling, style issues, and passive voice. Even at its most basic level, I asses each notification and determine if the change is one I want to or need to make. Grammar and spelling are given the most leeway to changes. Style and passive voice, I take care to determine if they are enhancing or detracting from the passage.

An entire story written in the passive voice is passé, but a passive sentence here and there can add to the nuance of one’s writing. Take a step back to style, and this is where I do suggest caution be used. I frequently get called out for adverbs and ease of reading. More and more, I bow to lessening the use of adverbs, and find myself on a learning curve of which stylistic interpretations are beneficial and which are redundantly superfluous. Ease of reading, slow down! My voice is sacrosanct to me in my writing style and if I capitulate to each suggestion of simplification or change suggested, my style is then not my own, and it becomes the voice of the writing aid.

See the article on voice. Please.

Should one need further assistance in assessing one’s writing style, there is a style checker for showing adverb usage, in and outside of dialog, repeated sentence starts and subordinate clauses. Overused words will show words that are words used too often in place of other words that are words that are not used often enough. Run reports in a variety of venues, create combinations of searches for various parts of speech.

I learned the hard way. I took out so much of a piece that it no longer sounded like much of a story. It was a stringing of sentences about some characters who fell rather flat. I opened an unaided version; I added my voice back in. The characters once again rose, arced, fell and landed on their feet, or not.

I will wrestle my adverbs to their death.

Bottom line is, one should choose and use a writing aid at one’s discretion. Make sure the piece sounds like you and that the writing aid has caught all that needs to be corrected.

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