Learning. All of it.

This week, like last week, was all about the revision.  Or is it, “Revisions happened this week, like last week?”  Perhaps, “I did revisions this week, like last week.”  The Grammarly extension for Firefox is fine with all of the above.  The Hemingway Editor isn’t happy with the “perhaps.”  AutoCrit thinks I need more text to analyze.  My plan did not include getting this deep in line editing this week, but I’m a sucker for automatic tools with graphs and highlights.

I also watched several more classes of Brandon Sanderson’s BYU course on YouTube.  I really like his books and the classes are free so I think it’d be silly not to take advantage of them.  This week I learned I’ve been doing dialogue tags all wrong.    I’d like to blame all of my English teachers, but who knows if they actually taught me wrong or if I’m just dense.

The engineering degree has been awesome for engineering, but not as helpful for writing.  Many science classes ask for the passive voice in reports, so my background goes against the common suggestion for fiction writing in that area.  On the upside, I get to use zombies to help me find passive sentences.

I’ve learned more about “to be” verbs than I thought I needed to know.  Actually, I never would have guessed I needed to know about “to be” verbs.  I don’t think I knew they were verbs before Friday.  Now I know, and I want to minimize them.

Then there is this lovely chart for past tenses in English.  I was having difficulty understanding past perfect and past perfect progressive.  I feel better about my word choice now but don’t know what the perfect or progressive do for me, and that chart includes other words like “participle” and “infinitive.”  I’ve heard jokes about split infinitives but as an engineer, I never laugh.

To summarize, this week was all about learning!  Or I learned a lot this week.  Much was learned.  By zombies…

Why bother?  Because I’m trying to write an engaging story, not a clinical assessment of facts.  For the last eighteen or so years, I’ve aimed for clinical assessment of facts.  It’ll take awhile to reprogram for storytelling.  I’m up for the challenge though!  Learning is more fun when it is for something that brings you joy, and I love writing.

Grammarly wanted me to take out the “for” in the above sentence.  It would then read “Learning is more fun when it is something that brings you joy.”  That would make it sound like grammar brings me joy, and that isn’t the case.  Which leads to another thing I’ve learned – don’t just take the advice of editing software!

I do have enough words for AutoCrit now, though most of the reports don’t work as well for blog writing.  It found all the passive sentences I added intentionally.  Here’s the readability report.  Hope you have at least a fifth-grade reading level.

Editor | AutoCrit Online Editing 2018-01-13 19-14-18

In case you’re wondering, these reading levels are high for fiction.  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway scores only a fourth-grade reading level with the Flesch-Kincaid test.  None of the best selling fiction authors writes above a ninth-grade reading level and Tolkien comes in at six and a half.  This blog has all the awesome charts for reading level.

There you have it.  Or you have it now.  Have it now, you do, if we are channeling Master Yoda.  Go forth and conquer your week! I’ll be here looking at words.

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