A work colleague asked me the other day if I was still writing. To which I replied, yes, but I was a little upset by the question. The problem being I haven’t published a book in two years. Part of the reason for this is the editing and trying to get the book the best it can be.
There seem to be an army of books telling you how to market the finished product, but that’s like giving someone a book on marathon running before they’ve learnt to walk. Sometimes, what you need are the basics. How do I write better prose?
In common with the majority of authors I am always looking to improve the way I write and I never have any money for expensive courses. When I saw an advertisement for ProWritingAid it was relatively cheap (approx. £25 pa) and I thought I would try it. The automated programme analyses your writing, highlighting over used words, passive verbs, redundant words, diction, readability and more. There is the option to install it on your computer as a plug-in for word and that’s how I use it. The downside is it takes me about a week to edit a chapter. You’ll never correct all the mistakes, some things it flags don’t look right, but it will help condense and make you think about your writing.
The alternative is AutoCrit and from looking at the free 30 day trial it looks just as good, highlighting much the same issues. It is slightly more expensive than ProWritingAid, but it depends on which you find the easiest to use. If you opt for the free 30 day trial, take advantage of their special offer, Writing Dialogue (approx. £30). It consists of three 30-40 minute videos and it’s really good for the lower price. At full price it is far too expensive. Alternatively check out the helpful articles in the AutoCrit Library for free.
In terms of books, be warned, everyone can publish a book and there are schemes which will send them to the top of the Amazon charts. It doesn’t mean they are any good. If you can get them free, or cheap on kindle, great, but don’t pay large amounts of money for a paperback book which may add little to the way you write. At the moment I am reading Stephen King On Writing, which is widely regarded as one of the best books on the subject and it’s only available in expensive paperback. When I’ve finished, I’ll post my thoughts.