Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are You Prepared: As a Student

As a mother, a writer and a human being I’m continually learning. Learning is an essential part of the human experience. We can never know enough. Society, technology and media, are always evolving and if you aren’t changing with them you’ll be left behind. Behind isn’t where you want to be as a writer. Especially for those writers of MG or YA. It’ll be reflected in your work. So do your homework. If you remain open and have the mentality of a student, you won’t miss opportunities to learn. The more you learn the better equipped you’ll be to edit your manuscripts.

How do I remain the consummate student?

I ask questions. Many agent blogs and publisher blogs allow readers to send questions via email and the comments section. Send in your questions or peruse the ones that have been answered. Some helpful sites to visit:

Mary Kole - from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency has a blog a wonderfully informative blog. Her blog has a plethora of information from editing tips, to querying agents. She also allows you to email her questions. And her answers are ultra honest and concise. I’ve learned quite a bit from her site. She has wonderful insight into the writing life from the perspective of an agent and a writer. You won’t be disappointed!

Nathan Bransford – a former agent with The Curtis Brown Literary Agency, has authored his own book and has a new job. But his blog is chalk full of helpful information. If you haven’t already checked in to his site, you’re sorely missing out.

The Blood-Red Pencil – This blog is awesome! It has some of the best editing tips I’ve seen online. I think in part because the authors are manuscript editors. I can’t do enough justice to this site you have to check it out for yourself.

Writers Knowledge Base: A search engine for writers – full of articles on anything having to do with writing. Great for finding articles about editing, freelancing and more. It’s a database of the best of the best online.

Other Helpful sites to visit that aid in the never-ending saga of editing:

WordCounter – this site will count the frequently used words in your document. You can have it search the 25 most used or the 200 most commonly used words. I recommend searching in batches as it can sometimes take time to load if you put too many words in. It may take a while to get a whole manuscript (I did my 75,000 words in 2 hours, while getting the kids out for school) analyzed but it’s free and well worth it. You can designate that it not count small words such as “the”, “it” and etc. 

The AutoCrit Editing Wizard - this site gives you three free 500 word max, searches of your document. What are you searching for: overused words and redundancies, clich├ęs, and sentence variation…these are the free wizards. You can search up to 500 words three times a day but if you need more in-depth editing you can pay a fee and have the wizard find other errors in your manuscript. The Wizard will analyze your pacing, dialogue, readability and other errors.

Once you’ve done your research and edited to your hearts content then try this site:

Writer’s Market – you must have a subscription. This site is the first that I subscribed to as a new writer. It is full of information on agents, publishers, contests, magazines – how to contact them, their current interests, organizations their affiliated with and more. It has great articles and can be broken down by different markets (Children’s, Fiction, Nonfiction…). It is well worth the subscription cost.

I visit these sites often. I’m always on the lookout for editing tips, either to share with my followers or for my own manuscript. I’m also on the hunt for great book reviews because as much as I love to write I love to read. Reading is a form of learning - if you read like an author (but, that's another post). The consummate student is always striving to improve. And a visit to any of the sites listed here will aid you in your quest for knowledge. Happy Learning!!!


  1. I too love learning, sometimes just for the sake of learning, I'm embarrassed to say!

  2. Cathy, I always refer to myself as a nerd...I love learning new things. You never know when that something new you learn can transition into an idea for a story.


Please share your thoughts. We promise not to stone you for it.