Authors Using Technology: Blessing or Bane?

Technology : Blessing or basin of authors.

There! Right there. I typed bane not basin. My computer decided I meant something else.

I love the ease of Swype where I can glide my fingers effortlessly across the keyboard, but it comes at a price. I often face a battle over how to spell words and even what words I’m writing. I can’t fathom where my computer finds these words. Sometimes, I try to write a very simple word several times, and computer boy wants something else. Yelling and shouting at the keyboard does no good. It’s deaf.

Many times, I have threatened to leave the program. But like a bad boy you can’t give up, the program reactivates, and I come slinking back just for the feel of the glide on my fingers and the ease of typing. And like a bad boy, I have to keep an eye out and constantly check up on what the program is saying for fear of some outrageous word cropping up… Like basin for bane, and then name, and then… until I’m pounding the keyboard in frustration.

Does technology do that to you? Do you bless and curse it all in the same breath? What technology do you use as an author that helps you?

As my writing circle shrinks, I’ve been exploring editing programs. I’m now familiar with Grammarly, Ginger, and Prowritingaid. Autocrit, Hemingway, Slickwriter, and Scrivener are a few others.

Of the three I use, the most value from the program for me comes from Prowritingaid. For forty dollars a year, I bought the premium version. It’s fairly easy to use, but can be overwhelming. It offers a critique summary which tells you your reading level, grammar mistakes, word repetitions, spelling, sentence lengths, punctuation and much more. I feel there is too much, but then I pick and choose what I want to change, and my writing is better for it.

Next I like Ginger. This editing program has a free version that is quite adequate. You import your section, and it tells you grammar errors, punctuation problems and offers a fix. The free version has limited word count of five hundred words at a time, but you can do it  piecemeal. If you have the patience, what Ginger has that the others don’t, is a program that goes sentence by sentence and offers several alternative words and sentence structures. Often, they will suggest a word that makes the meaning sharper. Instead of she walks, they’ll offer she ambles or struts. Sometimes, like my Swype program, they’ll offer a total off-the-wall suggestion. One of the choices might say: The queen rained. You just blink your eyes and move on.

Grammarly is also good and very popular. There, too, you can get a free version. Just be aware that you must put up with the constant sales pitch, and slyly, they won’t tell you all the errors, saying you must upgrade to their thirty dollars a month version to get a full critique. I don’t feel the upgrade is worth it.

Still, the free version does an adequate job, even though it harps on my use of articles for various nouns, or rather my lack of them, and my negligence in adding commas between compound sentences while completely ignoring the lack of punctuation at the end of a sentence.

I never liked Hemingway’s compact and sparse prose. I’m more of a Faulkner writer with his long involved sentences and intricate descriptions. Juicy. So, I didn’t explore the Hemingway editing program.

If you use an editing program or a writing program, which one is it, and what do you like about it? What is your opinion–technology: blessing or bane?

This week I want to suggest reading two of my favorite books : Heavy Time and Hellburner by C. J. Cherryh.

I’m now having fun writing the third novel in my Terran Trilogy called The Weight of Gravity. Previously, I’d become stuck in the middle of the story as often happens to writers. I knew I wanted to write about the conflict between Alysians and Terrans as the Terrans try to settle on Alysia. I wanted to add urgency to the story with the threat of an attack, and that’s when I remembered reading Hellburner.

But I had to start with Heavy Time because Hellburner was hard to find, and also because Hellburner happens earlier and continues the story with the same characters. Rimrunner also takes place in the same universe.

Heavy Time has strong political overtones and tells about the struggles the small independent spaceship miners have against the big company asteroid mining conglomerates. Pilot Paul Dekker is discovered drifting in a tumbling mining spaceship and half dead without memory of what happened. His crew appears to have been murdered, and he is the number one suspect. Paul is half out of his mind and keeps calling out for his lover and crewmate, Cory. With great reluctance, Ben Pollard answers his distress call and brings him in, complaining about the cost and inconvenience. Paul ‘s constant frantic rantings after his missing girlfriend annoys Ben, and he abuses Paul in order to stop it.. Once on station, Paul’s former fellow crewmate, Bird, takes pity on him and is the only person who tries to clear his name, but it doesn’t prove easy.

Hellburner continues Paul’s story.

After testing Paul to see what skills he might have, the military discovers through an incident that he has extraordinary piloting skills. A powerful executive in the Mars Company, Cory’s mother, is out to crucify Paul as she believes he is responsible for her daughter’s death. She tries to bring him off station to Earth to try him for murder.

But the military has a secret warship in development and needs Paul’s skills to pilot their prototype. They offer him refuge from prosecution if he will pilot the ship. However, within the various divisions of the military, conflict develops as to who will control the program, and Paul ends up right in the middle of the fight with several murder attempts aimed at him. Against his will, Ben is pulled in to bring a drugged Paul back to sanity where he uncovers a secret plot within the military.

Fast-paced, the story is typical Cherryh. Told in various first-person viewpoints, it’s solid science fiction with a lot of emotional heat. She keeps you guessing as what is really going on until the very end.

5 Comments

Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling author, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, military science fiction, Science fiction thriller, Technology Authors can Use, Writing Critique groups, Writing Tips and Lectures

5 responses to “Authors Using Technology: Blessing or Bane?

  1. I tried one once, and got so frustrated I never went back. 😀

    Like

  2. It’s so good to see people praising Sci-Fi from the last millennium. For me, it’s the best. But I grew up with it, so I guess (as with 60’s and 70’s music) it forms the backdrop to my early life.

    I use Grammarly (free) and Autocrit (paid), but I won’t be renewing Autocrit. The paid version doesn’t really give me more of what I want than the free version does.

    One excellent feature of Autocrit is their “Fingerprint” which assigns a score to the overall submitted piece (spelling, dialog, etc). Comparing my score to those for popular works (which they publish from time-to-time) is interesting. I get a glow of satisfaction to know my WIP already outranks “The Martian”, for example. Sadly this is only in quality of writing, not sales. 😦

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    • Prowritingaid does that (overall all percentage comparison) but I haven’t outranked the Martian.

      The Martian had the powerhouse of TOR behind it to market. Then a blockbuster movie with superstar lead. Hard to beat that.

      Struggle on, do not give up. I just downlowed your next in the series, and I see you have a new one out after that.

      So, that’s one more

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      • It felt good when I saw the assessment, but I don’t expect to out-perform The Martian. And it’s only the opinion of one algorithm. I doubt the algorithm gets paid enough to offer movie contracts or even to buy my books.

        But I’m pleased to see you’re following my trilogy. I hope you enjoy.

        Like

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