Monday, February 8, 2010

Some Silly Things I Do

Well, not silly, necessarily. Quirky, maybe.

But as I put the finishing touches on a couple of stories, hoping to build a bit of a backlog, and gird myself to open up another unfinished piece that is sure to be novel length, I find myself doing many things that are now habits. For what it's worth, here are a few:
  1. I'm a compulsive spelling / grammar checker, but not just for correctness. I confess I'm obsessed with Flesh-Kincaid readability statistics. If I sink below 80% and am graded higher than seventh-grade level, I know I'm probably trying too hard and need to rewrite.

  2. In my quest for a Flesh-Kincaid "B" grade, I run my stuff through multiple programs, among them Microsoft Word's built-in grammar checker (I do most all my writing in Word), an old public domain program I downloaded years ago called "Doc Stats" that provides statistics such as word counts, most often used words, etc., and WordPerfect's built-in Grammatik program.

  3. When writing in Word, I often shift my page size to "5 x 8" Index Card, with margins of one-inch on the top and bottom and .5 inches on the side. I do this for a couple of reasons. One, it gives a view two-pages up, making it look like two pages of an open book. This gives me a hint of what it might look like on the printed page, and lets me know if I'm using too many dialogue attributions, whether my paragraphs are too long or too short, etc.

    I do it too because I remember reading years ago that Raymond Chandler did much of his writing on index cards. When asked why, he answered something like, "I want to make sure something interesting happens at least once on each card. If I can't write something interesting or exciting on the space of an index card, then I'm doing something wrong."

    Seems like good advice to me.

  4. I downloaded OpenOffice years ago because of its .PDF capabilities, and use it often to output my work to .PDF format for proof-reading and editing. There is something about looking at that bold, black .PDF font on the screen that makes stuff leap out at you. I'll have the .PDF open and the .DOC open and edit the .DOC as I read the .PDF. When that's done, I do it all over again.

Lots more quirks, no doubt, but those come immediately to mind. Curious to know what are some of the quirky things that you do?

PS: The document above has 420 words, 10% passive sentences (ugh!), a 65.9 Flesh-Kincaid Reading Ease score, and reads at a ninth-grade level. Not good!


    Fox Lee said...

    I"m sure I have quirks. I notice, for example, that my face muscles hurt after I write. Why? What am I doing??

    I do know that I need almost absolute silence. No TV, no music. Only the sounds of keys, and the endless shuffling of a fat pug in the background.

    Brendan P. Myers said...

    Hilarious about the face thing, Nat. Perhaps a hidden cam is in order? Wholly agree on the silence as well, though I'm envious of those who can crank up rock and roll and still write. Me? I'd just use it as an excuse not to.