So, lately I’ve been reading a lot about revisions. I’m in the process of revising Draft Three of “Manifestation,” and I’m seeking all the input I can get. I’ve read blogs, books, and advice on Twitter about what methods to use, what common mistakes to watch out for, and so on. It’s all been very useful.
So I started thinking, “Hey, I have a blog! I could share these same tips with everyone else!”
Then I realized I’d mostly be rehashing advice that’s already, like, ALL over the web. While I’d write my own versions of it, the content itself wouldn’t be that different from what I was reading elsewhere. So I figured the solution, instead, is to share some of the sites I’ve found to be the most useful! That way you can get a list of different places you can look to get the information, all indexed in one place. I’ll also include a few other handy websites with useful writing tools.
Next is the Online Rhyming Dictionary. This is most useful to me when working on poetry. I can type in any word and get a whole slew of words that rhyme with it. Having a long list of words to choose from can be very helpful when struggling for just the right rhyme in a poem.
Then there’s the Phrase Finder and Online Etymology Dictionary. These are helpful for researching the origins of words and phrases, and how they’ve evolved over time. As a writer, I also consider myself an etymologist, and I make a habit to study and understand words and phrases as much as possible. It gives me a stronger grasp of language and how to use it properly.
On to more revision-specific tools, there’s the Emotion Thesaurus. You can buy it as a full book, but the website there offers some samples that can be very useful. It’s great if you’re struggling with “Show, Don’t Tell” in your writing. Each emotion listed has a long list of phrases and actions you can use to describe a character’s emotions. I’ve found it very useful when I catch a mistake in my manuscript and can’t think of the right way to “show” what I want to express.
Next up is Grammar Girl. This is a very handy website with tips about the correct usage of various words and phrases. Ever get confused about the difference between either/or vs. neither/nor? Than vs. then? Affect vs. Effect? Grammar Girl can save your day.
A lot of sites suggest you watch out for “overused” words. But how can you tell which words are overused? Well, Wordle is a great tool for that. It will make an image of your most common words (you can choose how many it will display), and the size of each word is changed based on how frequently it appears in your document. If there is a really BIG word shown, that means it’s one you use a lot. The options on the site can show you exactly how many times each word appears in the document. Once you know which words to look out for, you can do a search through your document and replace some of the overused words with others.
Finally, a writer named Nat Russo (@natrusso on Twitter) recently posted a two part blog post about revisions. His checklists are a pretty thorough and cover a lot of common mistakes to look out for during the revision process. Definitely worth taking a look.
Do you have any other commonly used websites where writers can find help and advice? Please share! I’m always looking for more wisdom to spread around.
Edit 1-10-13: Here’s another good one recommended to me by Dale Spencer (@Dalespencerwork on twitter): http://www.dailywritingtips.com/