In Accordance with Prophesy

Marniy Jones, Fantasy and Science Fiction

madonna-and-child-with-st-elisabeth-the-infant-st-john-and-two-angels-1516.jpg!BlogI stumbled on an article about the Mosuo of China. They have a fascinating culture, and I realized that the Yhellani in my Sundered Tree novels strongly resemble them. It’s not a primary focus of my books, and I’ve added an option of marriage for people who have actually proven themselves fertile, but the elements are very similar.

Children join the mother’s family, and are raised by her relatives. Marriage to the father isn’t required, although it is an option, and multiple lovers are encouraged.

Nice to have confirmation that such a culture can succeed, and that I wasn’t so far-fetched in my imaginings.
The Mosuo

I encountered a new on-line grammar/writing checker today.
Pro Writing Aid joins the ranks of Autocrit and Story Analyzer. You can check up to 3000 words at a time and get access to almost all of the reports at the free level.
It’s almost identical to Autocrit. I mean like whoa- are these the same people? But, the free level is more generous and there are some additional reports. One that stands out for me is the sticky sentences report.
Sticky sentences are sentences that are mainly composed of the 200 most common words (glue words).

Glue bottle

The stuff that holds the Universe together

From their website:

“The sticky sentence report will highlight any sentences in your writing that contains a high percentage of glue words. It will also highlight those glue words for you. Try and reduce the number of glue words in your sentence to improve its clarity.

Example

Original: I was able to use the information that I have in my files and spoke to a number of people about the problem and managed to resolve the problem.

Glue Words: 58% – Sentence Length 29 words

Redraft: I resolved the problem using my contacts and the available information.

Glue Words: 36% – Sentence Length 11 words ”

I think it’s better to be succinct and the redraft is better in this case, but I’m not entirely on-board with this as an issue. But, I admit the Glue words thing is a new concept, and it may take me awhile to wrap my head around it.

Some of the other reports, while yes, giving additional information, don’t really strike me as relevant, either.

I think I’ll be sticking with Autocrit and SA as my tools of choice.

Pantone color 64-8: Potato Brown

The color “potato”

It’s a common bit of writing wisdom, that character names should not start with the same letter. Having both Brad and Barney in the same story can confuse readers. I had this issue with two of my characters in Book One. The names seemed different to me, but not my readers. (I changed one of the names.)
With the increasing popularity of audiobooks, it now seems writers need to consider the sounds of the names as well as spelling.
I’m listening to “Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson, and two of his POV character names sound nearly identical, despite being spelled differently. Raoden and Hrathen (pronounced Rathen).
OMG the confusion each time there’s a POV shift.

While directing a fellow writer to some of my favorite writing tools, I discovered the program I use for plotting has been converted to a free on-line utility.
Typing Chimp Software: Character Writer
Character Writer includes a Story Tool and a Character Tool. Both are fun to play with, and worth a look.
I use the Story Generator. It starts randomly, but you can lock some fields, and regenerate until you get an outline you like. For example, the program offers this suggestion as a Catalyst to get my main character moving on her journey:

A messenger or ally gives Quin a new mission to help someone in trouble.

I customized that suggestion to relate to the plot I had in mind:

Jol comes to Quin to convince her to rescue Barrand. Quin doesn’t believe Barrand is alive and would be impossible to save. She doesn’t want to become involved with gods. Jol persuades her to talk to Sarael.

It won’t write your book for you, sadly.  If you have trouble plotting, as I do, this can help you hang your ideas on a solid wire-frame of classic story structure.

The second tool is Autocrit It catches all those over used adverbs, duplicated words, and other common writer mistakes. It compares your writing sample with that of published works of the same length. For instance, it will flag all your adverbs and provide a statistical report of the results.

 Your sample included 75 adverbs. A similar sample of published work uses 3. You might want to remove some.

It is then up to you to review your sample, and decide if you need all 75 adverbs.

I pay for the advanced features on this site. I especially like the ability to add my own words to the search parameters. I can customize it to report on my own writing ticks. I use “looked” too much. My reports include that word.

Of course, you can use the Find feature in Word.  I’ve done that. Autocrit is much faster. Word also won’t tell you that you’ve used the same word twice in one paragraph, or how many “thats” is too many.
Give the free wizard a poke.

demon_reading_Stewart_Orr

The demons of false narrative are watching.

I just read an interesting article by Kameron Hurley over on A Dribble of Ink.

‘We have always fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, cattle, and slaves’ narrative.  Well worth reading if you’re interested in rooting out the cultural misogyny ingrained in our media.

I try very hard to not tell lies about llamas in my writing, but I’m sure that it sneaks in, in ugly and insidious ways. Lately, I’ve been wondering if my book passes the Bechtel test. Plenty of named, female main characters…but how much do they actually talk about things that aren’t men? My current revision is going though and taking some of the scales off.
Good article, and a reminder to me about important stuff. (Also, the artwork is glorious)