The Final Push

software frustrations

I’m in the final push of making sure Surtr’s Fury is ready for release next month. That means I’m worrying about making sure all the i’s are crossed and t’s are dotted. Oh, wait, it’s the other way around. Then there are the commas and dashes and hyphens. Oh my.

You get my problem. It’s the little things that get left until last. The things so-called reviewers will kill a writer on in reviews because they don’t think the proper rules of punctuation, etc., were followed. The problem with this is most of those sorts of reviews are wrong.

Amanda, what do you mean? (Hey, I ask myself that a lot.)

The rules have changed over the years. Do you use the Oxford comma (and when) or not? Em-dash or hyphen? Two spaces at the end of a sentence or one? And let’s not even talk about ellipses.

The problem’s not helped by the reliance of so many of us these days on spell and grammar checks built into the programs we use. I’ll let you in a a little secret: those rules change from academic writing to fiction, business to personal writing. Heck, they change if you are talking British English to American, just like some spelling.

So how to handle this, especially if you aren’t a grammar nazi like some of my friends who know the rules a lot better than I do?

First, you find yourself friends or at least beta readers who are good with grammar and punctuation (or at least someone who doesn’t mind looking it up online).

Second, you don’t rely on just one app’s spell and grammar check function. Going hand in hand with that is you make sure you set the checker for the correct form of writing. Many of them let you choose if you are doing formal/business writing or informal or fiction writing.

Third, understand you do not have to accept every recommendation the checker makes because the checkers aren’t always right. Look at the suggestion in context of the sentence and the paragraph. You may need to misspell a word to get across a character’s accent. You may want to throw the grammar and punctuation rules out the window for a moment to show urgency or fear in how a character speaks or just to show urgency, fear, etc.

Finally, accept the fact that you are never going to get 100% on those spelling and grammar checkers for the reasons above.

With all that in mind, I’ve been doing a final read-through of Surtr’s Fury. I’ve run it through both the Word spell and grammar check as well as ProWritingAid. That’s pretty easy because PWA has an add-on so it is just a click of an icon while in Word to get its report. The problem comes in that it is often in disagreement with Word. On the whole, PWA is better, at least for me, than the Word review functions, but it isn’t perfect.

I have also run the manuscript through AutoCrit. In some ways, AutoCrit is like Scrivener. It has so many bells and whistles, it can be daunting. But dayum, it has some functions I love. I know some of you will argue that it’s evil because it is based on AI. But so, like it or not, are most of the review functions these days because they are doing the same thing AutoCrit does, just not as in-depth. Anyway, that’s not a discussion for today.

AutoCrit’s reports include being able to check your manuscript by genre and by author. Now, the authors you can choose from are limited. If you’re writing space opera or milSF, you won’t find David Weber or some of the other “names” listed. If you’re writing urban fantasy, you’ll find Patty Briggs but not Faith Hunter. But there are several dozen authors, most of whom I actually recognized. You choose one and you will see how your work compares to theirs in things like sentence length, dialog tags, pacing, etc.

Like with PWA and the review functions on Word or other word processing programs, it is a tool. One I’m finding useful.

But the real work still falls to me. Which is why after I run the mss through these various tools, I still sit down with pen and a hard copy and go through it. Even then, things will slip past me and I can only hope my editor and beta readers will catch them.

All this is a roundabout way of saying everything is on schedule for Surtr’s Fury. All I have to do now is figure out what to focus on next. There are a number of options: the next book in Eerie Side of the Tracks, the final book in Sword of the Gods, the book that ambushed me last month and wouldn’t let me go until I did a quick outline of it, the next Tearing the Veil title, Designation: Frejya (that is still fighting me tooth and nail even though I have it drafted), or something else. I know I’m doing Battleborn (which has been retitled (both the novel and the series) in the last day or so. Book title will become Warborn Legacy, which was the series title to begin with, and the series is now Betrayal Among the Stars. Of course, knowing Myrtle the Evil Muse, she’ll hit me with something completely unexpected. Sigh.

For now, I need to find another cup of coffee and get back to work. Until later!


  1. I’m sure I violate writing rules all the time. I attended school from 1955 to 1967 so how I write is most likely not politically correct grammar and punctuation-wise, and at my age I really don’t give a damn. Of course, it helps that I’m not a professional writer (though I did take a college class in technical report writing)!

    1. I was in school a bit after you, but I know exactly what you mean about the rules, etc. The key is being willing to do a bit of research if you aren’t sure and to let others beta or proof it for you and then decide what works best within the context of the word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph.

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