Author’s Note: As you all know, I’m in the business of making things up. However, real life can be just as extraordinary. Here is my latest conversation with a WordPress friend regarding her blog post and its redistribution. I use an app called Buffer. The conversation went as follows.
I thought I’d give everyone a heads-up that I have a new page on my blog. After the wonderful responses to the posts I’ve meant mostly for my Medium account, I have decided to collate all that information (and more to come) on a separate page. I hope this enables people who haven’t read them, and those who have but can’t find the information, to access them more easily. I have already added some extra useful stuff and shall endeavour to keep doing so.
Find it HERE
PS. It should all be clickable now.
Alternate Writing Resources
There’s Always Help Available
Author’s Note: Here is my latest post on Medium. Please feel free to click the link and join me there.
I think all writers (me included) have a tendency to complicate things overthinking what, how, why and where we write instead of just picking up a pen or tapping on a keyboard. We cogitate over so many variables with our already overstimulated minds (I blame coffee) that we sometimes neglect the simple things. When all is said and done, we only need one writing app be it Scrivener, Microsoft Word, Pages, Storyist, Google Docs etcetera, etcetera, often overlooking the more statutory writing resources available. Here is a collection of apps and sites that I hope might genuinely (damn, an adverb) assist fledgling writers. The more experienced, too.
There are many good dictionaries online and as apps but Dictionary.com is a double-barrelled bonus. Available as both a website and dual app, inclusive of thesaurus.com, it is essential to a writers arsenal.Such a useful fallback when one forgets how to
spoll, spall, spell, a writer should never be ashamed to check the spelling or correct usage of a word.
How many syllables, spelled as one word, is a sight with one simple purpose to count the syllables we might be unsure of or run out of fingers for. A very good aid for those who write poetry such as haiku, shadorma, tanka, etcetera (four syllables) and need to be sure of their syllable counts.
In previous posts, I’ve talked of my love for Prowritingaid and Grammarly. However, there is another kid on the block which is more app-like in presentation. Available on the web or as a download, Hemingway presents the writer with a canvas to write on and then have checked for possible improvements. I would recommend trying this out in the same way I would my favoured two. If such devices/resources correct or help to correct even one mistake, they’re worth using.
Have you always wanted to add a little ’un petit quelque chose de plus’ a little something extra (according to the item in question). Google translate is available like all Google products on the web, but also as an app. It’s free, so give it a spin. Authenticity is priceless in text.
We all know it. Or do we? I dare anyone to admit not knowing Wikipedia or even having visited it for one reason or another. But if you take it for a real spin (I use a lovely app called V for Wikipedia) you can soon use it for so much more than you’d think: colour options; geographical exactness; history; people, and the list goes on. Bookmark it and take it for a ride, it’ll soon eat up the hours.
Text-compare.com opens as a dual pane editor for you to paste two lots of text in. The site will compare them and highlight the differences, What use is that? I hear you shout. Well, many apps these days save version histories (especially Dropbox and iCloud writing apps,) which you can browse. You might not even remember some of the changes but looking at them might make you think ooh, that was good! Being able to compare two side by side won’t be an everyday occurrence but it might help every now and again.
Last of all, something different.
Alternativeto.net. If you’re looking for software but don’t know where to start, or perhaps only know of one option, try this site. If you type an app or software name into its search bar, it will list more alternatives than your can shake a stick at. These can be filtered to your heart’s content.
As always, I hope something here assists your written work.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
Into Eternity (Very Soon!)
Writing Tools for the Professional Writer
Author’s Note: This is a copy of my latest post on Medium. I hope you find it useful.
In real life, I’m not a fussy man. Sure, I like what I like — who doesn’t? — but my tastes are simple. This is not the case in my literary life.
Let’s get the main issue out of the way: I hate Microsoft Word! I use it when I have to and no more. A modern writer does not need every tool in the book only a keypad and screen to see which keys they’ve tapped. A proliferation of ‘tat’ as my Grandad used to say, or, stuff for stuff’s sake, serves only one purpose and that is to delay the art of actual creation.
‘Okay!’ you shout. ‘What should I use?’
I would never tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t write with as it is so individual a choice, but I can share what I use and hope it helps you.
You will have heard of many of these and I apologise in advance that most are for the Mac or iOS as they are my working platforms.
This is a simple choice for an un-simple — can I say that? — application: Scrivener.
Scrivener is a do-all tool that can and do as little or as much as you wish it to. I use Scrivener for all long-form writing. I won’t go into details because it will bore you, but the main reasons I love it, are as follows.
- Scrivener handles all aspects of compiling your manuscript so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Scrivener is adjustable. I like to feel comfortable when I write. I like information available, index cards etcetera, but out of the way. I like a fullscreen mode, focus mode, dark backgrounds and the list goes on. I doubt there’s anything a writer could think of that Scrivener does not do.
- Most of all, it’s reliable and multi-platform. Plus, now that there’s an iOS and companion, although I found the sync hard to set up, the whole ensemble is complete.
Note: I would like to add that I found diving straight into Scrivener and playing around, much easier than watching the screencast, (it boggled my weak mind). Others may laugh at this, but better to be truthful.
Prowritingaid. I finish all my compositions by putting them through Prowritingaid.com. You can paste up to 3000 words into it and have the site evaluate all possible mistakes. Take the results with a pinch of salt and learn from them. This is superb and I cannot recommend it enough. I have the full unlimited version but the free one will suffice most people.
Grammarly. When I have put my work through the above site, I then do so again through Grammarly. I find Grammarly better at picking up punctuation issues than Prowritingaid but the latter better at passive voice and adverb advice. Again, Grammarly has paid and free plans so there’s no excuse for not being able to use it.
Ah, here we go. As I said at the start, I am a fussy, fussy writer. I like to write on certain coloured backgrounds particularly on small devices. The same goes for fonts and general presentation. The following accommodate my foibles.
- Ulysses: Available on Mac and iOS. Ulysses is the closest simple writing app to Scrivener. It uses Markdown, which I love and am using now, but allows for customisation and general simplicity of views.
- Byword: As above but much simpler. You don’t have the choice of customisation with Byword as some apps; you don’t need to. The company’s choice of tools is perfect for plain, non-complicated writing in any genre or style.
- iA Writer: As above but arguably even simpler as you get less choice with fonts. Another beautiful Markdown writer that makes the job of typing out a story a true pleasure. (This actual post is written and posted using iA Writer).
Author’s Note: All three of the writers above have free services to publish direct to various blogging platforms, (VERY USEFUL).
NB: I would like to give an honourable mention to the new Bear app (Mac and iOS). For general notes and a bit of all the above, the Bear application is stunningly beautiful. A true pleasure to use.
I would also like to mention Pixabay.com for sourcing great free images. They, too, also have an iOS app.
You! There are no tools to replace a writer’s imagination. Let your thoughts flow and fingers type. Always write the way you want, about what you want, and others will see your heart and talent shine through. Everyone has talent. Never take no for an answer when it comes to writing. Keep going. Make it a habit. Enjoy it.
I hope you enjoyed this post and can make use of some or all of my recommendations. If nothing else, try the grammar checkers.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
Shhh, don’t tell! The conclusion to the series, Into Eternity, available very soon.
Ooh, very exciting!
The Writing Process (Kiss and Tell)
That really is my hand and I want no unauthorised use of it.
These last few weeks, I have undertaken a writing marathon. Whilst awaiting the cover and final layouts of book two of The Eternals trilogy, Hunter Hunted, I decided to crack on with unfinished storytelling business. Today, however, I am taking a rare break from it and thought I’d answer a few questions that have been asked about my writing process. I realise people often find this sort of thing interesting — I hope — so I thought I’d reveal Everything! Patent Pending.
Beginning (The Zone)
The first bit is often the hardest. I am a writer who likes to write whilst listening to music. I can procrastinate with the best of them until the soft leather of the headphones slips over my ears; writing takes me then, and I’m lost to everything else. That sounded dramatic, and it is, but getting those headphones on my head can be an issue — I really ought to employ someone to just plonk them on every morning after my run. Then comes the listening. I have a playlist for every occasion, but the one I write most to is the following:
- Insatiable / Darren Hayes
- Lifelines / a-Ha
- White Flag / Dido
- Ordinary World / Duran Duran
- If You Love Me / Brownstone
- Wicked Game / Chris Isaak
- Only When I Sleep / The Corrs
- True Colours / Cyndi Lauper
- Everytime / Loreen
- Here With Me / Dido
- It’s Over (Remix) / Level 42
- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word / Elton John
- That’s The Way Love Goes / Janet Jackson Janet
- Other Side Of The World / KT Tunstall
- Born To Die / Lana Del Rey
- Flown Away / Lene Marlin Playing
- Something About You / Level 42
- Stranger In Moscow / Michael Jackson
- Requiem Mass in D Minor, K. 626: Sequentia – Lacrimosa / Mozart
- Beauty On The Fire / Natalie Imbruglia
- O Mio Babino Caro / Nicola Kirsch
- Red Rain / Peter Gabriel
- I’ll be dreaming. / The Pierces
- Running Up That Hill / Placebo
- Gravity / Sara Bareilles
- Haunted (Alan Wake Soundtrack Version) / Poe
- Nobody Wants To Be Lonely / Ricky Martin
- Russian Roulette / Rihanna
- To The Moon & Back / Savage Garden
- Too Lost In You / Sugababes
- A Love Before Time (English) / Tan Dun & Yo-Yo Ma
- Woman In Chains / Tears For Fears
- Spanish Guitar / Toni Braxton
- Everything (Is Never Quite Enough) / Wasis Diop
- As / George Michael & Mary J. Blige
- I Want To Know What Love Is / Foreigner
- As Long As You Follow / Fleetwood Mac
- Skyfall / Adele
- Black Coffee / All Saints
- Hunting High And Low (Remix) / a-Ha
I never tire of listening to what I enjoy and it really helps to get me in The Zone.
The Thought Process
Next, the easy bit. I count myself fortunate to never ever get writer’s block and the written words come as easy as spoken words do not. The trigger, or spark, can be anything from an image or a word, to a sound or a thought, everything is inspiration if given the chance. The trigger for The Eternals was a picture posted by the wonderful Morgan; The Snow Lily, (which one day I’ll publish) merely the thought of a child looking out at snow — I love snow; Britannia Unleashed (a Steampunk extravaganza that’s almost complete) was a made up name. Like I say, pay attention to everything because you never know where it might lead.
Once I have that word or image, I immediately get the start and finish of the book. Just like that. I know it sounds too easy or made up, but it’s the truth. I could plan twenty books in one day if I felt that way inclined. Once I have the start and finish, the rest unfolds like a concertina or a flicked pack of cards. The whole process takes a minute at the most and I’m off and running. I will write a story, or more, with the same ease as eating breakfast; the editing is another thing altogether. I use a combination of repetition, speaking the lines out loud, Prowriter.com and Grammarly to iron out a story. I will go over and over it until I think it’s done. I have a thing about being made to look an idiot and it translates into my editing. I will not let it go until I think it can’t be improved and me belittled.
As a note, I rarely take notes, (did you see what I did there?) For a man with perhaps the world’s worst memory, I could rewrite a novel almost word for word, whereas a short story or poem is forgotten within minutes. I often find them on my laptop and wonder where on earth they’ve come from. If someone comments on a blog post, I can guarantee that I’ll have no idea what they’re talking about unless I reread it.
Confidence (Boo! Hiss!)
Next, comes confidence. I have none. You might think I have, but I can assure you, you’re wrong. My trick is this, and again, I assure you it’s the truth. I don’t believe a word of someone saying how much they enjoy my writing, and don’t give a damn if they say they don’t. If someone comments in a negative fashion on any part of something I write, I ignore it, so don’t bother. This might be particular to me as I know it is said all criticism should be taken on board, as well as praise, but this is the only way I can pluck up the courage to reveal my writing. As I’ve said many times before, nobody could be harder on me than me. The method works for me, anyway. (I used me too much there. I hate repetition. I hate repetition.)
A Note On Marketing
Here, I am fortunate to have a wonderful publisher: they push, I do as told. Marketing is a side of writing I find hard to embrace. A lot of writers are introverts by nature and I am more than most. Bulling my own work up, selling myself, etcetera, etcetera, comes extremely hard to me. Even sending my work off for review is like pulling teeth. I read and see others that I would term as terrible, sometimes at best, selling hundreds and hundreds of books and gaining review after review and truly wish I had their chutzpah — that was just an excuse to use chutzpah. Likewise, in the blogging world, I could happily never comment on anything or return them, but as you know I do. This is because I really do try.
To those of you who enjoy my app posts, these are what I use to write the serious stuff on: Scrivener. That didn’t take long, did it. I use all sorts to post to my blog: Byword; Ulysses; iA Writer; Editorial, but Scrivener alone for the serious stuff. This provides focus. Focus is the single most important factor when writing a book because you’ll live and breath it. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong job. I trim all unnecessary applications off both my phone and laptop to facilitate better concentration. The addition of a notepad at the side of my bed is also a good tool to have for those just-in-case-moments. PS. On the chance my wife reads this, I’ll admit to having Neko Atsume on my phone. Cats visit you and leave you fish to spend on buying them toys. I saw it recommended on a writer’s relaxation post as a tool to unwind and thought — Yeah right! — and now I’m on it every day. Curse you whoever you were!
Lastly, comes relaxation, as I struggle with it and always have. Music again helps, as did sport when I was younger. Running every morning is also a blessing in disguise as it both helps me relax and lessens the headaches (I have one right now) that have plagued my life. Good old fresh air and all that. Relaxation is very important. Don’t make yourself ill.
- Write, write and write some more. Write until you can see your own mistakes because only then will you improve.
- Read a lot. An awful lot. This is not just to relax but to help with spotting the mistakes in number one. PS. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes.
- Write whatever you want as much as you can in as many ways as you can. Send the best off to magazines and if they send it back, check it, then send it to another: writingcareer.com is a good source for writing opportunities.
- Get a good writing program or at least a good writing process. A good workman is only as good as his tools and all that.
So there you have it: me. I never write long blog posts, and haven’t vetted this as well as I should because of it. I don’t like being preachy as I don’t like being preached to, so I hope I wasn’t. With any luck you’ll have found this interesting, and if even some small part assists you, then it was worth me doing it. Enjoy your writing.
Thank you again for reading
Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals
Find me here:
I could list more, but I don’t want to bore you.
A: “Let’s here it then.”
B: “Prepare yourself, this is brilliant.”
A: “I’m waiting.”
B: “If I had a drum, I’d be rolling on it.”
A: “I’m still waiting.”
B: “Alright, alright, keep your socks on. I just wanted you to be the first to know.”
A: “I’m hoping that one day I will.”
B: “Oh, you will, matey.”
A: “Is this leading to a — can you lend me money — type scenario?”
B: “I can’t tell a lie.”
A: “You can’t tell anything. Get on with it.”
B: “I’m trying. Anyhow, I’ve had this idea for an app that’s possibly the greatest since the world became Pokédexed.”
A: “Good, I’ll get ready to shout eureka.”
B: “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”
A: “It would be.”
B: “Alright, here I go. It’s an app that requests aid from the community to help in getting things done for other people. Anyone can help, and if they do, they get fed by the person who they’ve helped. If you want someone to cut your grass, you text on the app. If you want someone to go shopping for you, you just text the app. If you want someone to help you tidy up…”
A: “You just text the app.”
B: “That’s it, you’ve got it. Good, isn’t it?”
A: “As your hare-brained schemes go, yes.”
B: “Geez! You’ve never said that in all the years I’ve known you.”
A: “You’ve never given me reason to.”
A: “So what are you gonna call it?”
B: “This is the most brilliant part of all, and don’t worry, Mr Cautious, I’ll test it here thoroughly before I trial it with others. Because it’s a mixture of self and getting things done with assistance, I’m going to call it Please.Do.Me.”
A: “You do realise you still live with your mum.”
B: “Hm, I’ll rethink.”
I don’t know if this helps anyone, but there is a little app called Hemingboard. This is a thesaurus also offering rhyming words which I use myself. It’s good. They’ve sent me an email (I don’t know why as I already have it) offering 50% off the Mac version with the code FREEDOM. It’s only on for 48 hours. If it’s of interest to you take a look at hemingboard.com
Hope it helps