Enlist the Power of the Grammar & Spelling Checker

For Marianne and others of us fighting trolls in our writing, we’ll take active help in our battles.

One powerful weapon in our word processing software can do more than make our words look pretty.  A special element in the software can not only check spelling and grammar but also determine the number of passive sentences.

While passive sentences can be necessary trolls, usually we writers fight to keep our sentences active.  Active subjects create power on the page.

This gadgety element gives you the Reading Ease for any document.

Newspapers are often written at a 6th grade reading level.

Consider these authors:

  • Cormac McCarthy writes at a 5th grade level.
  • J.K. Rowling = The first Harry Potter is close to 6th grade.  The last is close to 8th grade.
  • Stephen King = 6th grade level.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien = 6th.
  • John Grisham = 6th.
  • Tolstoy = 8th.
  • Michael Crichton = close to 9th.
  • The Affordable Care Act = 12th.
  • KJV Bible >> This can cause controversy because several websites list everywhere from 5.8 grade to 12th.  That might occur because some books are easier than others:  Compare Ecclesiastes to Isaiah.

I don’t remember who first said this wonderful statement, and the internet failed my search. (Surprise!  The internet does NOT have all the answers.)  But . . .

“It doesn’t take a genius to make something hard.  It takes a genius to make something easy.”

Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is a wonderfully rich allegory with symbolic dreams and lyrical passages . . . and is written at a 4th grade reading level.

Quality of writing is not in “big words”.  Obfuscation obscures;  clarity reveals.

Quality of writing is in approach, perspective, craft.  Remember, we are in writing to communicate.

The next time you wonder if you are “showing off” rather than communicating, find out by checking the reading level.

Step 1: Go to FILE > OPTIONS.

Step 2: Select PROOFING.

Step 3: Click the box “Show Readability Statistics” so that it has a check mark.

Step 4: Click OK.

You are almost ready to rock.

Step 5: In the ribbon across the top, select REVIEW.

Step 6: To the far left is a big check mark and the words “Spelling & Grammar”. Click it.

Run the proofing check, accepting or ignoring changes as the software offers it.

When complete, you will have a pop-up window called “Readability Statistics” with all sorts of information.

Number of words, paragraphs, sentences.

Words per sentence.  Characters per word.

Most importantly, you will have the percentage of Passive Sentences, Reading Ease, and Grade Level.

Have fun checking your writing.

And don’t strive for a scholarly, erudite tone unless you want to impress a college professor.

 

 

 

Grammar Phobia vs. Grammar Snobbery

Viral.

Definition 1:  relating to a virus, a disease that poisons the system.

Definition 2: relating to any media that circulates widely on the web.

Late April 2016:  a video blog (vlog) from The Guardian earned the “viral” cachet when the presenting editor inferred that grammar rules are made by the white, highly-educated segment of the population, and thus grammar rules are designed to be prejudiced against those who break them.

You can see the vlog here: Grammar Snobbery Vilified

What?  Wait.  Standard English rules are prejudiced?

No.

Actually, what the vlog editor inferred is that grammar helps communication, but some people become snobs when applying the rules.

Look, here it is, in 13 Points.

  1. Communication is both non-verbal and verbal, and verbal means spoken and written.
  2. The audience needs guides to follow communication.
  3. Those guides help the audience “read” spoken and written communication.
  4. The guides became standardized into common rules to assist communication.
  5. Certain rules that actually confuse communication became imposed on the English language. One confusing rule was made famous by Winston Churchill.  About the preposition at the end of sentences, he said, “That is a rule up with which I will not put.”
  6. The common rules became a mark of the highly-educated ~~ they usually were also the wealthy in the established (predominant) culture. Business primarily wants those who present the best image (non-verbal communication) to their clientele.
  7. In order to help those not in the upper echelons of society, the teaching of the common rules became a mainstay of the curriculum. [Originally, rhetoric (communicating to persuade) was the mainstay.]  Thus, the teaching of the rules was designed to assist the lower strata of society escape dead-end jobs.
  8. Imposition of the grammar rules by certain grammar snobs gave grammar phobia to the many who were learning the rules.
  9. We have forgotten that the rules are guides for communication—and that communication creates community through commonality.
  10. Commonality is necessary for community and is not antagonistic to diversity.
  11. Diversity in communication keeps the audience interested.
  12. Too much diversity, however, may obscure communication.
  13. Any communicator’s believability (credibility, ethos) is based on how well s/he communicates.
The Editor from The Guardian :: Does she have the final word on grammar rules? Or will the rules remain to aid communication?

Did you notice that the presenter explained her points in Standard English with an upper class accent and fully rounded tones?

Even as she debunked grammar snobbery, she proves she is a proponent of grammar rules for improved communication.

This vlog from The Guardian reinforces the blogs on Writers’ Ink Books:  grammar should not disrupt communication.  We use grammar to increase communication, not to browbeat others.

As writers, we use grammar to manipulate our readers’ impressions of our works.

We can enchant with lyricism.

We can convert with suasion.

We can entertain.

Or we can turn off our reader.

Look at the vlog.  Would you believe this denunciation of grammar snobbery if she broke numerous grammar rules?  Or is she more persuasive because she follows the grammar rules?

Ah, we agree with her ~~ grammar snobbery is wrong.

Old Geeky Greeks

Blood tragedies.  Atonement.  Harry Potter.

I, Robot.  Ironman.  Hubris.

The 13th Warrior.  The scariest woman in all literature.  The Hobbit.

Dudley Dooright.  5 Stages of the Hero . . . and the Monster.  Jurassic Park, in all its iterations.

What does this oddly-matched list have in common?  All have origins with the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The first writers developed techniques to influence their audiences.  Through an early look at what worked and what didn’t, they laid the foundation for writers today.  Many techniques of these old geeky Greeks are still in use, re-packaged as glittery infographics and Wham-Pow webinars, three-point seminars and exclusive insights to Buy Now!

Old Geeky Greeks: Write Stories with Ancient Techniques presents techniques such as the Blood Tragedy and dulce et utile in a clear, organized method for writers who want to write rather than invest hours getting three snippets of information.

Chapters in OGG cover understanding characters to the five stages that established the modern protagonist from the ancient hero.

Aristotle’s requirements for plot precede a survey of the oldest plot formula, the Blood (or Revenge) Tragedy.

Concepts such as in medias res and dulce et utile can help writers solve sticky problems and develop new ideas.

Old Geeky Greeks (and Romans) tried to understand the writing sense that emerged from the chaos.  They looked at successful plays and other story-telling methods to determine what influenced the audience.

Which characters were still talked about weeks and months after a performance?  Which play structures failed—and which were consistently winners?  Which ideas helped writers develop their celebrated writings?

Writers today are still searching for the answers to these questions.

The bright minds of Classical Antiquity first explored these questions, and their answers are applicable in the age of the internet, open-source software, special effects, and infographics.

Aristotle, Seneca, Plato, Horace, and many other ancient geeks have their ideas matched to Harry Potter, Avatar, Last of the Mohicans, and Shakespeare.

Whether we’re writing novels or plays, blogs or non-fiction, poems and songs, Old Geeky Greeks is a seminar in 28,000 words.

WIS: Prices for Proofing & Editing

Pricing

Proofreading and Editing Services

While no one can guarantee to catch 100% of errors, Writers’ Ink has over 35 years of experience in catching mistakes in manuscripts.  Our proofreading and editing services will not only find errors you may not have seen but also plot holes and character discrepancies.

Provide us with a copy of your MS*.  Priced depending on the length, we will proofread and correct mistakes in spelling, usage, and most punctuation.  (Since some punctuation is a matter of style or a reading assistance, we will not remove these marks of punctuation.)

Proofreading finds simple errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, and simple grammar errors.  We understand that dialogue may not be grammatically  correct.

  • Proofreading is only done for manuscripts that are considered complete.
  • If, while proofreading, we discover content editing problems, we will notify you and re-negotiate.
  • If you wish us to continue with Content Editing, that cost will be applied.  Our task will convert to content editor as opposed to proofreader.   Content errors will need to be revised prior to the completion of proofreading.

Content Editing looks for plot holes, character discrepancies, and illogical problems (a character on the East Coast who at 7 a.m. calls someone on the West Coast who is eating breakfast on their sunny patio.  This is not possible.  The West Coast is four hours behind the East Coast.  That would be 3 a.m. their time.  Writers Ink has seen this problem not picked up by other Content Editors.)

Developmental Editing:  for poetry and Non-Fiction only.  Even though we are helping you “develop” your writing, we do not ask for credit on the title page.  You are the writer;  we are looking for ways to improve the ideas you are communicating.

  • In a poetry series, developmental editing will look for thematic arcs and suggest line structure possibilities.  We will note change words although we may suggest such changes.  We will consider the sequence of poems in a series.  We have over 35 years of analyzing, explicating, and teaching poetry by the masters.  We understand that poetry is a special art form.
  • In Non-Fiction,  logical sequence and explanation & elaboration on themes, topics, and subjects will be considered.  We have over 40 years writing nonfiction as well as teaching the nonfiction form to students.

Cost of Proofreading

$250.00 for the first 100 pages (standard font, approximately 250-285 words per page, 1-inch margins all around)

$50.00 for each additional 50 pages

For a manuscript of more than 500 pages, please contact us with the completed length for a different price.

Cost of Content (Line) Editing

$300.00 for the first 100 pages

$75.00 for each additional 50 pages

Cost of Developmental Editing for Poetry

$300.00 for 100 pages

$100.00 for each additional 50 pages

 

*We do not work in the genres of horror, psychological thrillers, and erotica or soft porn.

WIS: Pricing for Trailers and Clips

Book Trailers and Corporate Clips

What attracts the reader’s eye?  The image, of course, and wise writers look to graphic artists for guidance with the book cover.  Yet how do we draw people to look at the cover in the first place?  Have you considered a book trailer?

You can write tens of thousands of words for a manuscript, but you can’t write a short script for a trailer that will be 30 seconds to a minute long.  Or you’re too busy with your customers and clients to spend the hours necessary to develop a short clip for your website or Facebook page.

Contract with us. 

For books, all you need to do is provide a synopsis / blurb and a few elements on a script questionnaire.  For products or services, we will drop by, tour your business, ask a few questions, then head off:  Once we have the background information we need, your part of the job is over.

Writers Ink will work in three stages:

First is Stage 1: our preliminary script based on the questionnaire / interview and your provided information.  If you want to make suggestions or head us in a different direction, that’s workable.  If you want us to go in a different direction, that’s do-able although we may need more information.  We will happily cycle back through Stage 1 with you.

Stage 2: We will generate a completed MP4 film file using MS PowerPoint, which we will upload to our YouTube for website.  Once it’s up, you can hyperlink to it or download it to your own drive, to a cloud drive, to Facebook, and to your website.  We advise having the original in two separate locations.  Want it on a flashdrive?  $15.00 more (Sorry.  Cost of flashdrive.)

Stage 3:  Sound makes trailers wonderful.  Once you approve the basic MP4 film file, we will select sound files that work with the tone of your novel or atmosphere of your product or service.  If you wish to choose your file from audiojungle or Envato Market, you will need to provide us with the location information.  Once the file is chosen, we will add the sound file to the MP4 draft.

Cost of Services

  • Deposit before Stage 1 of the Book Trailer :: $100.00  This deposit will be applied to the total cost.  If you want to stop at this point, our generated script becomes your property.
  • 2nd Stage Development of the Trailer / Clip :: MP4 without Sound $215.00 (minus the deposit, the amount is $115.00 more.)
  • 3rd Stage Addition of Sound to the MP4 film file :: $50.00 (location and cost of the sound file included) or $35.00 plus the cost of the sound* file that you located** on audiojungle PLUS the cost of insertion and second manipulation of the MP4 file to work with the sound file).

For all three stages of work, you are paying $265.00.  This includes the approved script, development of the film file, and insertion of the sound file, all into an easily accessible form.  You are paying for our expertise and our time, and we will provide you a quality product that you can proudly use on your social media platforms.

If you want us to upload the trailer / clip to your website and to your Facebook page, we will be happy to do so for an additional fee.

*Sound files should be located on audiojungle or on Envato Market.  If you have licensed copyright access to another sound file of reasonable length, we will try to work with you.
**If you locate the sound file and the cost of that sound file is more than $25.00, the additional cost will be applied to your bill.