In which editing becomes fun

Every writer manages the editing process differently. In my case, I defer the most serious edits until completing a first draft. For this lesson, I owe a debt to neuroscience. See, creative writing and revisions impel two different, competing areas of the brain. Worrying about the finer points of grammar and diction, while writing a first draft is like dropping two hungry beta fish into the same fish tank. I wind up working harder, and it takes much longer to finish either task. So, once a first draft of a manuscript is complete and I walk away for a few days, I return ready to bridge the great disconnect waiting for me. And by the disconnect reference, I mean the gap between what I think I have written, and the actual words on the page. The wider this gap, the more editing required. At times, revisions can be a lot of fun. At other points, the same revisions can be more draining than a divorce. For a long manuscript, this process can become frustrating, or at the very least, time consuming. Incidentally, that is also where one of the greatest dangers of writing lurks, waiting to snare a writer. For in those moments of frustration, writers are not always the best judges of their still nascent manuscripts. Even the most famous storyteller of the twentieth century, Stephen King once had considerable doubts about his writing. In one of the more dire moments, he pitched the entire first draft of Carrie into a garbage can. Only the eagle eyes and intervention of his wife, Tabitha rescued the novel. Thankfully, a great product exists for getting first drafts out of the rubbish pile and back onto the screen, Grammarly. The web based revision tool is one of the truly revolutionary writing packages on the market. There is much to like about Grammarly. In my mind, the mark of a great design is how much effort it takes to get what you need out of the software. With Grammarly, the answer is almost none. Just login and start working. Better yet, Grammarly performs just as expected, and each feature appears exactly where it should within the interface. Once a document is uploaded to the site, it scans the manuscript and identifies every instance of grammar, diction and sentence construction that could need adjustment. Better yet, Grammarly also offers helpful, constructive suggestions for fixing these issues. I especially like the report card style at a glance presentation of issues. The web version, and the Office plug-in perform equally well, which is impressive, since the feature set is considerable. Grammarly can deal with various sized projects and kinds of writing—whether the manuscript is creative or professional. Keep in mind, Grammarly is neither intended nor designed to replace a skilled copyeditor. Within the revisions process, there remains a place for the hyper-vigilant grammar czar. But by using Grammarly before delivering the manuscript to said copyeditor, a writer can greatly reduce the amount of time and effort required of an editor, and perhaps the wear and tear on a loved one. But the best part about Grammarly, is that it frees up energy that I would commit to the most tedious part of the revision process, so that I have much more time for the writing I do like. And in that way, Grammarly just might save a bestseller from the garbage can. Disclosure: I was provided access to an extended trial of Grammarly, which I enjoyed immensely.

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