How do they do it? How do those other writers always make such good points and keep you hooked, engaged and excited? Sometimes it just feels like magic. With one writer an hour can pass before you’re even aware you’re reading and with others it can feel like an hour before you’ve even figured out what the first paragraph means.
And of course, we know some of the things they do well, like using the right sentences lengths, the rule of three (e.g. read my lips, no more taxes), engaging vocabulary and that iambic pentameter thing that you learned about when you read Shakespeare in high school and you then promptly forgot. But how does that help you? You don’t have time to study old literature, or figure out which of the writing sites actually know what they’re talking, read everything they’ve written and then somehow integrate that into your writing style. You’ve got a deadline to worry about!
Fortunately, you no longer have to do it all alone. There are plenty of tools available that can help you write better and might even teach you a thing or two.
The Hemmingway App
This fantastic little beauty is great if you’re trying to write clear text. You just copy paste whatever you’re writing into it and it will tell you whether your sentences are hard or very hard to understand, whether words have simpler alternatives and if you’re using too many adverbs.
In the above paragraph, for example, it thought the second sentence was far too long. And so I edited and turned it into this: Then it will tell you whether your sentences are hard or very hard to understand. Also, it suggests simpler alternatives and it will tell you if you’re using too many adverbs. Which it liked better.
Now don’t assume that it knows everything better than you do, but just the fact that it has ideas can really help make your work clearer. Oh yes, and it’s free. Bonus!
Write It Now
The winner of the TopTenReviews 2016 creative writing software challenge, Write It Now is a bit like an external memory for creative writers. It has such handy aids as chapter, character and event trackers so that it’s much easier to keep all the ideas that are running through your story together. Add to that that it is user-friendly and intuitive and you can see the appeal. After all, there is nothing more annoying to flow that having to fight with a piece of software! This one sets you back about $60 last time I checked.
The Most Dangerous Writing App
Okay, this app comes with a warning. This one is not for the faint of heart. Here you’re forced to keep writing. If you stop for a few seconds the screen starts to go dark. When the five seconds barrier is passed, what you’ve written is gone.
That’s sadistic, to say the least, but it sure is a good motivator! You can set the amount of time you want to write (anywhere from 3 to 60 minutes). And you’ll have to do your editing afterward. And yes, it’s really gone. No amount of screaming will get it back. Dangerous, to say the least. Still, if you’re one of those people who likes to agonize over every word, this might be for you. It might be an unusual approach to writing, but if it works it works! It is free and the good old CRTL+A CTRL+C (Select All, Copy) still work, so in the case of an emergency, you can still save what you’re doing.
This great little beauty is directed at those for who English isn’t necessarily their first language and allows you to find out if a specific sentence structure is commonly used, which sentence structure is more often found in the English language and even allows you to see it used in other contexts, to make certain you’re using it correctly. It’s free, lightweight and can go on top of most writing programs. What’s not to like?
The people at Grammarly boast that they pick up 100 grammar mistakes that word can’t. That’s impressive. What’s more, they’ll even give you a detailed explanation of why this is a mistake and how you can correct it, so that you actually become a better writer. And you can add it straight to Chrome so that it will check your social media, your emails and your blog sites for you. Why even bother with Word anymore, aye? This one’s free too!
The best writing tool you can have of all is to turn off the distractions. Come on, you know it’s true. So if you’re really serious about writing, get offline, turn off your phone and give the kids a sedative (okay, bring them to your moms, that’s probably a better idea). We’re not multitaskers and we should do our absolute best to reduce our distractions as much as possible. Though these tools will certainly help, that’s the way you’ll really hit that deadline and make certain the content is unforgettable to boot.
Good luck and good writing!
John Unger is a UK native writer, a digital marketing guru with strong entrepreneurial underpinnings and love for helping businesses succeed. As a difference maker, I hope that my articles inspire and help my readers. You can find more in my social networks. Follow me on Twitter and Google+