Useful Tools For Writers

by Neeks

There are many things that new authors have to overcome these days to publish their work.  While it’s easier than ever to get published electronically, you still need to have a polished product to deliver or no one will be coming back for seconds.   As someone with no formal training after high school (which was 3760 years ago) I have a problem, and I’ll bet some of you do too – a lack of editing expertise.  I don’t even have a beta reader.   No, there aren’t any writing groups in my town either.   What’s an aspiring author to do?

I found a website which will proofread your paper.  Check it out here.  Go ahead and click on it, we’ll walk through it together.  Aha, gotcha!  Aww hey, didn’t your Dad ever ask you to pull his finger?

Seriously though, the site is real and the link is here:  Paper Rater provides (free of charge), a grammar and spelling check, plagiarism detection and even gives writing tips.  It’s not a substitute for rewrites and editing of course, but it can nevertheless be a great little tool.

Another great site is Musings of Mistress of the Dark Path.  I’m not sure about why she named the blog the way she did, but there is a lot to look at, you should check it out.  I haven’t been following it for long, and still need to look around more.  There is a monthly contest for writers (awesome, with prizes!), authors can post book giveaways on her site, just tons of stuff!  The one that has me excited is her new “Critique” page.  She will (free of charge) critique up to 1000 words or less of your story or WIP.  I’ve only seen two that she’s done to date, but so far her comments have been right on the money and really insightful.

Good enough, in fact, (I wrote this on June 9, 2012) that I’ve submitted part of my story “Supernova” to her.  Of course, as soon as I sent it I saw something I needed to change, but it’s done, I sent it so I can’t take it back.  I left part of my instructions to myself in one of the scenes and I’m sure she will remind me to show not tell, and she will be right!  Why don’t we see these things until after we’ve hit the send key??   You can submit your work to her and she will post a critique once a week on Sunday.  Her name is Susan, and she told me to feel free to tell my writer friends about the chance for a critique – do you think she’ll mind all 577 of us Limebirds showing up for dinner?

Here is one last little treat, a sweet little animated video on YouTube about books.  It’s wonderful 🙂

20 Responses to “Useful Tools For Writers”

  1. Very, very informative and I will definitely pass on the information! Great post.

  2. Thank you so much for the tip about Paper Rater! Excellent way to spot grammar and spelling mistakes in the early stage. I’ll definitely use it as first aid before passing my work to feedback-giving readers, just to save their nerves a bit. 🙂

    • nmjkemppainen, it is a good bit more help than the old “spell check” on our email and WORD programs, isn’t it? Even wordpress doesn’t catch them all. If you know of any others like this we would all love to hear about them. Thank you so much for stopping by 🙂

      Reminder to those who plan to make use of the paper rater – it is just another tool. Since we’ve found that the very spell checking programs I’ve mentioned here (not to mention others) may not catch every mistake, I wouldn’t expect this one to either. But it does seem to be a lot more comprehensive than most.

  3. You got me. I tried to pull the finger. Nice work on the rest of the post too. ;-P

    • Whew T.W., I was wondering if anyone found that funny or if I had overstepped the boundaries of worldly politeness or grownuphood or such. I’m not usually one for bathroom humor but my daughter and her friends thought it was hilarious and I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything. Thanks for stopping by – and it’s good to know someone is pulling for me 🙂

  4. This is an interesting–and timely–topic for my writers group.

    Full disclosure: I’m a founding member of the Dogpatch Writers Collective (DWC), a group of professional writers/editors based in San Francisco. Three group members have an MFA or MA in Creative Writing. One group member teaches creative writing in the Pacific Northwest and is a faculty presenter at the Chuckanut Writers Conference held in Bellingham, WA. Two of the group have published fiction. Three have substantial credits in the nonfiction arena. Two members are also professional editors. Our blog is at

    The group has been critiquing each other’s work since 2000, a tool that has become a vital part of our writing process. But recently, we began to wonder if there’s a general need for group critique services, especially for writers who are isolated geographically.

    Our model would look like this: The author submits a piece for group critique and pre-pays for the service through Paypal. One or two weeks later, the author receives a written critique from three members of our group. If the author has follow-up questions about the critique, a group member handles those by email or phone. Maybe sometime down the road we could offer to do the entire critique via Skype, but we’d like to start with this written format.

    The DWC has just posted a “mini” critique of a group member’s first draft of a memoir piece on our blog. The post shows a short excerpt of the author’s manuscript and some of our initial comments, which tend to be much more developmental in nature during this early draft stage. We don’t usually suggest line edits until a piece gets much closer to completion.

    I’d love for people to stop by our blog and let us know if this would be a valuable resource. If you do consider it valuable, what would you expect to receive as part of the critique? We’d greatly appreciate any comments! Thanks!

  5. Thanks Neeks, I’ve made note of those sites – including the finger pulling one 😉

  6. Ha ha. Very funny. Thanks for the links! I am bookmarking your post so I can come back and explore the links more.

  7. Very cool to have. While I’m a freelance editor, I appreciate getting feedback on my work from another writer whose judgment I trust. I don’t know how other writers who are also editors feel about this.

    Finding a good match is also important in editing/critiquing. Not all editors are built the same, just like all writers are not built the same. The process is not entirely objective, and writers can waste a lot of time with an editor whose style or expectations or ‘eye’ is not a good fit with the writer’s goals. And I don’t mean everyone has to agree all the time, but there has to be a certain level of understanding and balance between a writer and editor in order for the relationship to work successfully.

    Thanks for the links. I’ll be sure to check them out.

    • So many things about the process are subjective Kate, it makes the whole process so very intimidating. I completely agree and good point! about the editor and writer needing to be a good match. It’s something I hadn’t even considered.

  8. Very useful places. Thank you very much. Why is we always find an error after we have hit send?


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