Paul Deines

Using Grammarly as an Independent Writer

Using Grammarly as an Independent Writer

By Paul Deines

We’re all human, right? Those of us who make a living filling blank pages with ideas and stories contend with our fallibility all day.

I happily acknowledge that my writing isn’t perfect. These days, I produce an average of fifty-thousand words per month from my clients. At that volume, I only have time to give a piece a quick revision and a final read-through before submitting. Occasionally, I’ll call in a fellow writer to read through something for an extra bit of oversight.

Notwithstanding these limitations, I want to provide the best possible work for my clients. So, the Grammarly application has become invaluable to my writing process.

What is Grammarly?

For those unfamiliar, Grammarly is a free app that functions as a digital proofreader and editor. It flags spelling, grammar and punctuation issues. It locates redundant and overwrought phrasing, too.

I tend to write fast and dirty, then clean up later. This app is a lifesaver in that regard. Essentially, it outsources the proofreading that I know I will miss late at night when I’m on deadline.

How is Grammarly different from a normal spelling-and-grammar check?

All decent word processors come with a spell-check and grammar tool. However, I can attest that Grammarly is far more sensitive to the kinds of numb-skulled errors writers make a hundred times a day.

I’m especially atrocious when it comes to hyphenating two-word phrases like put-upon or, well, two-word. Grammarly always catches this. I constantly type form instead of from. For some reason, I tend to type to instead of the. The app locates all of these without fail.

Plus, its interface is amazingly clean and intuitive. You can easily scan for red-lined errors and with one-click, substitute its suggested edit.

Also, beyond the examples written above, Grammarly flags passive voice, overly intricate sentences, word choice concerns, just to name a few examples. Granted, you must pay for a premium membership to receive suggested fixes for these issues. I much prefer reviewing the flags, which can tip me off to unwieldy writing I need to revise.

An Important Tool in Your Belt

Grammarly isn’t perfect, of course. I do most of my writing in Scrivener, and currently, there’s no plug-in for that platform. So, I either copy my text over to the app, then make corrections in Scrivener; or I do my proofing after I export to Word.

One pet peeve is that it defaults to including the Oxford comma, which I almost always choose to omit.

But these are minor quibbles.

After all, Grammarly is not a catch-all fix. It’s a tool.

I always give my work a read-through after running Grammarly. As we all know, finding typos and grammatical errors is just the tip of the iceberg when you’re revising. You need a human eye to detect subtext and tone. The app might catch an errant note, but only you can fine-tune the melody.

The humbling fact that every writer must accept is that no amount of diligence or raw intellect can guarantee a perfect draft if you’re the only person reviewing it. Grammarly gives you a second pair of eyes.

(As a final note, I ran this short article through Grammarly, and it identified six errors.)

About Paul Deines:

Paul Deines is a New York-based writer focusing on beer and culture, sometimes together and sometimes separately. His work has appeared recently in SR-Mag, Brew Studs, and Hop Culture.

As a freelancer for hire, he ghostwrites novels, crafts marketing copy and contributes dialogue for video games and other digital content.

An occasional playwright, Paul’s plays have been performed both online and on stage around the country. In his spare time, he enjoys experimental cooking, classic cinema, watching football, attending the theatre, and constructing playthings for his daughter.

You can read more of his work at his website, The Curiograph (thecuriograph.com) or follow him on Twitter @thecuriograph.

You can also read recent articles by Paul Deines by visiting the links below:

www.hopculture.com

wearebrewstuds.com

Ashton Rice

How I Define My Target Reader and Why

How I Define my Target Reader and Why

By Ashton Rice

Something all writers should seriously consider and put time into is developing and
getting to know target readers. Target readers will grow your career and should be seen as one of
the most essential components of the writing profession. These people are the ones who will take interest in your books/writing and need to be considered every step of the way.

How I define a target reader:

Defining a target reader can take a while, as these populations can and do tend to fluctuate. There are many ways to go about this though. Social media is a great way to see potential target readers. Active social media use is often rewarded with an increased following.

Show samples of work on Twitter to see who likes the content or retweets it. Twitter is definitely where the online writing world resides. LinkedIn is also another great way to analyze a target audience whilst writing a book or project.

The beauty of being able to follow publishers and see the content they post can be used for even an independent writer. See what kind of people like publishers who inspire you and conduct research on the label’s books. You’ll be able to take an educated guess at who may enjoy your content by doing so. Asking friends and family to participate as beta readers is also a great way to determine what kind of people may take interest in your work.

Beta Readers  are individuals you most likely know very well, and it is an easy way to project who may be a future fan of your work. There is no one way to define how to find a target readership, but it simply takes time and engagement with supporters and potential readers.

Why it matters:

Some of you may ask why finding a target reader is important. Well, to keep selling books successfully, it would help to have solidified a following. A writer can’t continue creating new material if they are still in the hole from previous unsuccessful projects. Establishing a target reader means a writer can focus on catering to these individuals and make the read at least worth their while.

Not to say you write fanfictions for all of your supporters, but rather you include what your target reader responds to for repeat appeal. Remember, for a writer, the reader is what stands between a job and unemployment. A target reader is to a writer what an investor is to the stock market.

These readers should be regarded as one of the most important aspects of any writer’s career. Next time you begin to write or get ready to tap the keyboard, think about who you write for and why. Think about what you can offer them through your writing. Make sure you invest time into figuring out who your work clicks with and who it potentially can reach. A target readership is a collective that will keep a writer paid and employed, so nurturing this group should be treated as delicately as the craft of writing itself.

About Ashton Rice:

As a sequential art major out of SCAD, Ashton began writing as an intern editing for The Borgen Project. He learned valuable experience as an editor and writer while taking on this role, and discovered a passion for writing and sharing information and ideas through written language.

Ashton now writes for SOLRAD Magazine and Write-On e-Publishing. His passion for comics still persists, and he continues to write and illustrate his own comics while studying up and coming alternative artists for reviews and interviews for the SOLRAD Magazine. Ashton favors writing science fiction as well as contemporary fiction in his personal work.

Follow Aston Rice on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/ashy.rice.art/

Malik Sharrieff

3 Steps to Supercharge your Writing

Amateur writers write for the sake of writing. While this may create copious amounts of inconsequential content or provide them personal pleasure, it does nothing to increase business prospects, improve the world, or move their audience to take action.

So what is the goal of great writing, and how can it change your work?

Professional writers always have one main goal in mind with everything they write: to transform their audience. Great writers strive to help their audience see through different eyes, act differently, change the way they interact with the world.

Anyone can throw words together and make complete sentences, but if you want to actually have impact through your writing, you must learn to write for transformation. It’s the difference between being merely informative and being compelling and persuasive. There are three simple steps to transformational writing:

  • Writing for a specific audience,
  • Using the right venue, and
  • Choosing and executing the right type of transformation (there are three).

 

1. Specific Audience

If you want to reach your audience, it’s absolutely crucial that you understand them, get out of your own perspective, and write to their perspective. One of the first things I advise new writers is to identify your target audience, things such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, location, income level, purchasing habits, hobbies, talents, interests, etc.

When you know who you are talking to, then you’re prepared to custom tailor the message to resonate with them specifically. For example, words such as “revolutionary,” “cutting-edge,” “fresh,” or “trendy,” will more likely resonate with an 18-25 age group, whereas a 60-70 age group will probably have negative reactions to them, who prefer things that are “proven,” “safe,” and “sensible.”

2. The Right Venue

By venue I mean the medium used to convey your message, including such things as magazines, newspapers, journals, books, radio and TV ads, blogs, websites, etc. The venue you choose is, in large part, determined by your audience.

For example, if you are writing a lengthy article on monetary policy intended for scholars and economists, the best venue is probably a scholarly journal. Few people can stand to read long blocks of meaningful text on a computer screen, I probably won’t have enough space to make my case in most magazines, etc. On the other hand, if my content is concise, simple, and intended for a broad audience, perhaps an e-zine or blog article makes sense.

All of us are exposed to written communications that we skim or ignore, yet if that same message is presented in a venue more palatable to us, we’re much more likely to spend time reading it. Writing for transformation requires utilizing the best venue for our subject matter and audience.

3. The Right Transformation

There are three types of transformations: know, feel, and do.

A know transformation seeks to give the readers new information, or old information arranged in a different way, to help them to learn and know things they didn’t know before, in such a way that changes their life and perspective. A feel transformation obviously seeks to evoke strong emotion in the audience, while a do is designed to get an audience to take very specific, immediate, and tangible action.

Amateurs look at this list and try to do all three; professionals focus on one and nail it, because doing so affects the others. How do you want people’s lives to change because they read your message? What do you want to see occur in them? Do you primarily want them to know, feel, or do something? Pick one–yes, just one–and execute it well, and the others will take care of themselves.

If you want your message to actually have impact, you must learn to write for transformation. Know who you’re writing to, use the right venue to reach them, and choose the right transformation and execute it well. After all, transformational writing is the only writing worth reading.

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your past publishing plan(s).

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

If you have any questions, shoot us a note at the contact us page.

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