Diagram a Sentence

PG asked ChatGPT4 to do something with the first line from The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed.

Prompt: Diagram the following sentences: ‘The King is dead. Long live the Queen.” The announcer’s voice crackles from the wireless and winds around the rapt patrons of Berlin’s Milk Bar as sinuously as the fog curls around the mournful street lamps, their wan glow barely illuminating the cobblestones.”

ChatGPT4: To diagram the given sentence, we’ll break it down into its constituent parts, focusing on the main clauses, subordinate clauses, phrases, and key parts of speech. The sentence can be diagrammed as follows:

  1. Main Clause: “The announcer’s voice crackles from the wireless”
    • Subject: “The announcer’s voice”
    • Verb: “crackles”
    • Prepositional Phrase: “from the wireless”
  2. Subordinate Clause: “as sinuously as the fog curls around the mournful street lamps”
    • Conjunction: “as”
    • Adverb describing how the voice crackles: “sinuously”
    • Comparative Conjunction: “as”
    • Subject: “the fog”
    • Verb: “curls”
    • Prepositional Phrase: “around the mournful street lamps”
  3. Additional Phrase: “their wan glow barely illuminating the cobblestones”
    • Possessive Pronoun: “their”
    • Subject: “wan glow”
    • Verb: “illuminating”
    • Direct Object: “the cobblestones”
    • Adverb modifying the verb: “barely”
  4. Independent Sentences: “‘The King is dead. Long live the Queen.'”
    • These are two separate declarative sentences.
  5. Contextual Setting: “winds around the rapt patrons of Berlin’s Milk Bar”
    • Verb: “winds”
    • Prepositional Phrase: “around the rapt patrons”
    • Prepositional Phrase: “of Berlin’s Milk Bar”

In this diagram, each part of the sentence is broken down to show the structure and how different elements are connected. This visualization helps in understanding the grammatical structure and the relationships between different parts of the sentence.


PG will leave the task of assessing how the AI did on this challenge to visitors who still remember what a “Direct Object” is. He doesn’t remember Mrs. Lascelles ever saying anything about “contextual settings.”

PG was expecting to receive a graphical diagram to be created by the prompt, like the following example:

PG speculates that the AI doesn’t have the ability to output graphic diagrams. (Yet)

Words fail us, and this writer knows it. How she is bringing people to the (grammar) table

From USA Today:

Ellen Jovin is not the grammar police.

She’s more like a grammar guru, a gentle, nonjudgmental guide who knows English isn’t etched into a linguistic stone, rigid and unchangeable. Instead, she knows it’s a living, evolving thing whose rules are subject to the wants, needs and whims of those who speak and write it.

Though she is hardly a Strunk & White scold, Jovin is so invested in English as an interactive pursuit that she has not only written a book about it (“Rebel With a Clause,” HarperCollins), but she’ll also set up a table just to talk shop, answer questions or geek out with fellow word nerds. Her husband, Brandt Johnson, also a writer, is working on a documentary film about the Grammar Table.

“I treasure everything about language,” Jovin said. And she enjoys sharing that passion with others, no matter their own relationship to words. “It’s about love for the language in all the forms it comes to us − slang, departures from traditional grammar, what words mean and how that can change. It’s fun.”

Jovin has taken the Grammar Table to all 50 states since 2018 (she has stops planned for Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona, in February) and is often in parks in New York City, where she lives. A longtime educator, consultant and writer, Jovin started the Grammar Table as a way to get away from a computer screen − where grammatical rules have degraded almost as much, it seems, as personal and political discourse.

. . . .

Jadene Wong is one of the people Jovin has connected with (yes, Jovin said, it’s fine to end a sentence with a preposition). A pediatrician at Stanford University and “self-admitted grammar nerd,” Wong loved “Rebel With a Clause” so much that she found the author’s website and reached out via email. She was delighted when Jovin wrote back.

Wong thinks so highly of Jovin − and grammar, apparently − that she took time out of her vacation in Hawaii to talk to USA TODAY. When she visits New York, she finds out where Jovin will be with the Grammar Table and makes a point of stopping by to talk.

“Her writing is so humorous and fun,” said Wong, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. “She knows the rules, but she also goes with the times and the trends. She’s not a person who says, ‘You have to do this or you have to do that.’ She wants to know, ‘What would you do?’ She knows modern language. She’s not like your old schoolteacher.”

One thing Jovin does that’s reminiscent of an old schoolteacher, though, is diagramming sentences. Her Instagram, @grammartable, includes posts from her travels as well as a couple of quick diagrams of pop songs’ lyrics, including Pink Floyd’s grammatically challenged “Another Brick in the Wall” and Vampire Weekend’s salty song “Oxford Comma.”

And if you think diagramming is a relic as old as a ruler-wielding Catholic school nun, think again.

Ninth grade students at High School of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx learn how to diagram sentences as part of their English curriculum, said the school’s principal, Alessandro Weiss.

Jovin visited the school last year and will be back again this year.

“Ellen is excited about language,” Weiss said, and that’s something HSAS educators want students to share. “We want our students to find joy in language and to understand how it’s open to change.”

Diagramming not only helps students understand sentence structure and grammatical rules, but it also illustrates how much precision matters. Students can see misplaced modifiers, stray prepositions and the dreaded dangling participle more easily when it’s mapped out on a series of straight lines.

Link to the rest at USA Today

Character Type & Trope Thesaurus Entry: Lady of Adventure

From Writers Helping Writers:

DESCRIPTION: This self-sufficient and tenacious woman seeks out adventure and new discoveries, often breaking with the conventions of her time to do so.

FICTIONAL EXAMPLES: Arya Stark (Game of Thrones), Eowyn (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), Mulan (Mulan), Dolores Abernathy (Westworld), Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

COMMON STRENGTHS: Adaptable, Adventurous, Alert, Bold, Confident, Courageous, Curious, Decisive, Efficient, Enthusiastic, Focused, Independent, Industrious, Passionate, Perceptive, Persistent, Resourceful, Spontaneous, Spunky

COMMON WEAKNESSES: Cocky, Impatient, Impulsive, Irresponsible, Obsessive, Pushy, Rebellious, Reckless, Self-Destructive, Self-Indulgent, Stubborn, Uncooperative, Volatile

Being street smart
Restlessness; needing to be on the move
Lacking patience
Thinking for herself
Rejecting the conventions that don’t suit her
Persistently pursuing her goals; seeing things through
Disregarding people in authority—specifically those who would try to force her into a specific role or keep her from certain activities
Avoiding long-term commitments (in case a better offer comes along)
Believing that romantic entanglements will slow her down

A romantic partner wanting to settle down
Sustaining an injury that affects her mobility
Getting pregnant
Rules changing that restrict women’s freedoms
Being saddled with additional responsibilities at home or work, making travel and adventure less possible

Has a stable home life, with children
Is elderly
Has an atypical trait: indecisive, nature-focused, sentimental, verbose, whiny, vain, etc.

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

For more information about various character tropes, check out the Thesaurus Description Database which you can find via the Writers Helping Writers Home Page.

How to Use Brain Waves to Enhance Your Writing Practice

From Jane Friedman:

Insights are the juice of a writing life that take us from not knowing to a god-like understanding of our stories. They feel like a lightning striking inside you and often cause you to say things like a-ha and that’s it!

While you can’t crack your head open and press the insight button, you can set the stage for insights to happen, and for you to do more organized, heads-down work.

To get started, let’s look at how your brain waves work.

Brain waves 101

Your brain’s neurons emit electrical waves as they communicate with one another. The five brain waves, from slowest to fastest, are delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. Understanding which ones support specific writing activities can not only enhance your writing life, it can prevent you from unwittingly robbing yourself of that precious juice.

Delta (1–4 Hz) is the slowest brain wave pattern. In adults, they occur during deep, dreamless sleep. When you get adequate deep sleep, you feel refreshed, focused, and ready to take on the day. Good sleep hygiene, which includes things writers might begrudge, like limiting caffeine after 2:00 p.m. (the horror!), shutting off electronics that emit blue light two hours before bed, and setting a regular bedtime, can improve how much deep sleep you get.

Theta waves (4–8 Hz) are the second slowest. They occur during REM sleep and play an essential role in memory formation. They also occur on the edge between sleep and awakening, and are sometimes seen as the gateway to the subconscious. This wave state is associated with creativity, intuition, daydreaming, and fantasizing.

Alpha waves (8–14 Hz) occur when we’re in a state of wakefulness but not really concentrating on anything. When your brain emits a healthy level of alpha waves, you’re more likely to feel relaxed and in a positive state, two things needed for insights to happen. According to neurofeedback practitioner Jessica Eure, “A healthy, robust alpha frequency allows us to tune in to ourselves and tune out the external world a bit while still being fully awake. This allows us to visualize things in our mind’s eye.”

Alpha and theta brain states are great for gathering ideas, making unique connections, or tuning in to what your subconscious has to say. That’s why Julia Cameron encourages writers to not just write in the morning, but to write as soon as you wake up. A groggy mind has access to those theta waves.

Beta waves (14–30 Hz) are fast and active. They occur when we’re in the wide awake state needed for focus and concentration. Harnessing your low beta waves (12–15 Hz) can help you organize your thoughts and increase your productivity. But sometimes we have too much beta, or the beta brain waves we experience are at higher frequencies. High beta states (14–40 Hz) are associated with stress, irritability, anxiety, worry, insomnia, racing thoughts, and being jumpy and hypervigilant. When we’re operating in high beta, the busyness of the brain can make it harder to focus.

Gamma waves (40–120 Hz) are the fastest of your brain waves. They coincide with periods of intense learning, problem solving, and decision making. They also appear alongside alpha and theta during states of flow.

Many factors affect the composition of our brain waves, including genetics, head injuries, illnesses, trauma, stress, and even the medications we take. You can’t reprogram your brain to have more or less of a specific brainwave without treatments like neurofeedback or strict, often hours long, meditation practices, but you can make the most of what you have by engaging the right brain waves for the appropriate writing task.

Capitalizing on your brain waves

For your brain to function properly, you need to take good care of it. According to Eure’s colleague, Dr. Rusty Turner, “The best things we can all do for our brains are exercise, eat well, disconnect from technology, and have good sleep hygiene.” That’s step one. Next, try to engage the brain waves best suited for your writing session.

If you’re generating new material, spend some time in your upper alpha or low beta brain wave states. This happens when you’re relaxed and feeling both wide awake and focused. (More on how to do this in a minute.)

After generating and revising that new material into something that makes sense, you’ll need to figure out what it means, why it’s significant, and how it connects to other things you’ve written. You can’t force these insights to happen by poring over your work. That’s because the more you focus on a problem, the more you worry about it, which engages your high beta waves. Instead, step away from your work and focus on engaging your alpha waves, with the occasional help from theta. This is where morning pages can come in handy. While Julia Cameron sees them as an emptying of the trash so you can get to real writing, giving yourself permission to wander into story territory soon after waking might help you solve your work-in-progress’s biggest problems.

Meditation is often touted as the way to prep your brain for writing. That’s because meditation calms the brain and encourages alpha and theta wave brain states. But meditation doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it can be detrimental to trauma survivors and can feel like failure for anyone whose brain has a lot of spindly high beta waves.

If this is you, skip the meditation and instead focus on breathing activities like alternate nostril breathing. This exercise will engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with the formation of alpha waves. Other activities that can help you engage in alpha wave states include warming your hands and feet, getting a massage, taking a shower, and walking in nature.

For editing activities that require a high level of wide-awake focus, give your low beta waves free rein. If you’re getting enough sleep, all you’ll need to do is take a walk, especially on a brisk day, to wake your brain up.

If you’re working on a large-scale problem that requires deep focus, gamma waves are your ally. While the best way to access them is sustained long-form meditation, there’s a hack you can use to access this and other brain states: binaural beats.

Binaural beats are two tones set to specific frequencies, or hertz, that you listen to simultaneously. Studies show that listening to binaural beats can help you temporarily access specific brain waves, though this doesn’t teach your brain to go there on its own.

While you can purchase a binaural beat app, a simple YouTube search will give you plenty of options. To see if binaural beats are right for you, do the following:

  • Grab a set of stereo headphones.
  • Choose a playlist set to the frequency best suited to your task.
  • Listen for approximately 30 minutes while you’re doing a set task.
  • Notice how you feel. If it’s helping, keep it up. But if you feel agitated, unfocused, or depressed, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It just means that frequency isn’t right for you.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

PG has absolutely no idea whether the OP is potentially useful or bunk. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments.

PG searched on YouTube for binaural beats. Here’s the first video he found:

Confessions of a Viral AI Writer

From Wired:

SIX OR SEVEN years ago, I realized I should learn about artificial intelligence. I’m a journalist, but in my spare time I’d been writing a speculative novel set in a world ruled by a corporate, AI-run government. The problem was, I didn’t really understand what a system like that would look like.

I started pitching articles that would give me an excuse to find out, and in 2017 I was assigned to profile Sam Altman, a cofounder of OpenAI. One day I sat in on a meeting in which an entrepreneur asked him when AI would start replacing human workers. Altman equivocated at first, then brought up what happened to horses when cars were invented. “For a while,” he said, “horses found slightly different jobs, and today there are no more jobs for horses.”

The difference between horses and humans, of course, is that humans are human. Three years later, when Open-AI was testing a text generator called GPT-3, I asked Altman whether I could try it out. I’d been a writer my whole adult life, and in my experience, writing felt mostly like waiting to find the right word. Then I’d discover it, only to get stumped again on the next one. This process could last months or longer; my novel had been evading me for more than a decade. A word-generating machine felt like a revelation. But it also felt like a threat—given the uselessness of horses and all that.

OpenAI agreed to let me try out GPT-3, and I started with fiction. I typed a bit, tapped a button, and GPT-3 generated the next few lines. I wrote more, and when I got stuck, tapped again. The result was a story about a mom and her son hanging out at a playground after the death of the son’s playmate. To my surprise, the story was good, with a haunting AI-produced climax that I never would have imagined. But when I sent it to editors, explaining the role of AI in its construction, they rejected it, alluding to the weirdness of publishing a piece written partly by a machine. Their hesitation made me hesitate too.

I kept playing with GPT-3. I was starting to feel, though, that if I did publish an AI-assisted piece of writing, it would have to be, explicitly or implicitly, about what it means for AI to write. It would have to draw attention to the emotional thread that AI companies might pull on when they start selling us these technologies. This thread, it seemed to me, had to do with what people were and weren’t capable of articulating on their own.

There was one big event in my life for which I could never find words. My older sister had died of cancer when we were both in college. Twenty years had passed since then, and I had been more or less speechless about it since. One night, with anxiety and anticipation, I went to GPT-3 with this sentence: “My sister was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma when I was in my freshman year of high school and she was in her junior year.”

GPT-3 picked up where my sentence left off, and out tumbled an essay in which my sister ended up cured. Its last line gutted me: “She’s doing great now.” I realized I needed to explain to the AI that my sister had died, and so I tried again, adding the fact of her death, the fact of my grief. This time, GPT-3 acknowledged the loss. Then, it turned me into a runner raising funds for a cancer organization and went off on a tangent about my athletic life.

I tried again and again. Each time, I deleted the AI’s text and added to what I’d written before, asking GPT-3 to pick up the thread later in the story. At first it kept failing. And then, on the fourth or fifth attempt, something shifted. The AI began describing grief in language that felt truer—and with each subsequent attempt, it got closer to describing what I’d gone through myself.

When the essay, called “Ghosts,” came out in The Believer in the summer of 2021, it quickly went viral. I started hearing from others who had lost loved ones and felt that the piece captured grief better than anything they’d ever read. I waited for the backlash, expecting people to criticize the publication of an AI-assisted piece of writing. It never came. Instead the essay was adapted for This American Life and anthologized in Best American Essays. It was better received, by far, than anything else I’d ever written.

Link to the rest at Wired

Slanting the History of Handwriting

From Public Books:

Years ago, I wrote my signature on a piece of white paper, scanned it, and inserted it as a picture at the bottom of my digital letterhead. It’s a perfect example of what Richard Grusin has called the “premediated” sign. Others in academia sign their letters by typing out their names in cursive fonts. Whether Zapf, Apple Chancery, or Lucida Calligraphy, the important thing is that the font gestures to cursive, which has become the avatar of handwritten-ness in digital media today. We make these insertions not because we need to signal our authenticating presence but because formal letters are a genre of writing, with certain expectations regarding not only content but also appearance. A formal letter should conclude with the writer’s name inscribed to look a particular way, whether it’s a picture of a signature or a digital simulacrum of one.

All of which is to say, whatever writing is today, it is not self-evident. In the introduction to the new edited volume Handwriting in Early America: A Media History, Mark Alan Mattes suggests that we can come to grips with what writing is by triangulating between inscription, the people inscribing, and the systems of communication in which their inscriptions circulated. The 16 essays in the collection bear out the expansive potentials of this framework, not only by truly taking on the contingency of writing itself but also by revealing how the same kinds of writing can do radically different cultural work.

For example, almost every essay in this rich volume finds a counterpart or mirror image of itself, underscoring just how relative and relational the meaning of every kind of inscription is. A poem on penmanship quoted and copied by a teacher into an African American girl’s friendship album endorses the value of “polite culture” as a means of advancing in the antebellum Black elite.  A different friendship album, owned by Omaha activist Susette La Flesche, also features an array of handwritten quotations, but they document a tense ethics of obligation between writers and recipient—both are impelled to act in accord with an assimilationist vision of Indigenous self-determination.

While this volume underscores the benefits of historicist thinking about writing, Joyce Kinkead’s A Writing Studies Primer attempts to short-circuit that project by taking the opposite approach: condensing 5,000 years of writing technology around the world into a single, unbroken thread. After visiting museums, libraries, and paper-making firms in the US, Europe, India, Japan, Nepal, and South Korea, Kinkead, a professor of English with a focus on writing studies, synthesized her knowledge and experiences into a book that covers a vast range of topics, from the origins of writing, writing systems, implements, and supports to the history of the book and the printing press, punctuation and calligraphy, ancient epistles, and social media. Each of its 16 chapters concludes with prompts for leading class discussion, hands-on exercises, and a short reading from a source such as the New York Times.

While many of the essays in Handwriting in Early America hinge on Foucault’s idea that writing is a technology of the self—the process by which the individual is formed through various mechanisms of social replication—A Writing Studies Primer is a contemporary example of what this theory describes. And not always for the good. The book leans heavily on ethnographic methods that are almost indistinguishable from the Western gaze. The college student reader—presumably American—is advised in the first chapter to avoid getting “lost in a history that crosses so much time and space” by writing their own biography of themselves as a writer. The student’s story then gives way to Kinkead’s, and the Grand Tour of writing on offer measures all material forms and genres against the yardstick of Euro-American writing norms today—norms that, for example, assume handwriting stopped having a history after the advent of print. But writing by hand did not simply continue to “advance” until it inevitably began to erode; its meanings and the cultural work it performed varied. They still do.

. . . .

Nineteenth-century writing exercises were meant to unite the individual body with pen, ink, paper, and prescribed word, thereby fostering the growth of national subjects. A young boy from Massachusetts, for example, practiced his personal hand by rehearsing over and over again the words “Independence now and independence forever,” the announcement Daniel Webster imagined John Adams to have made upon signing the Declaration of Independence. I am reminded of the stock phrase I see from time to time sprinkled in the margins of medieval manuscripts by readers trying their sharpened pens or simply enjoying the scratch of an inky nib on parchment: “ego sum bonus puer quem deus amat.” I am a good boy whom God loves. Surely some of the boys or men who wrote that were at times naughty, but what is a jingle if not aspirational? As Danielle Skeehan remarks on 16th-to-19th-century English copybooks, “authors often draw connections between alphabetic literacy, the literate subject, discipline, and imperial ambition.” The legacy of alphabetic literacy’s facilitation of empire is a long one, still being written, albeit now in corporate blog posts and emailed memos to vendors on the other end of a supply chain thousands of miles away.

A Writing Studies Primer attempts to supplement and enhance the necessarily instrumental nature of a handbook for composition courses by cultivating students’ awareness of writing as a culturally determined act. This is great. But, teeming with factual errors and underpinned by a triumphalist Eurocentrism, it only embraces the surface relativism of liberal values, which ultimately needs history to be quaint so that the surface relativisms of modernity can emerge as modernity’s greatest distinction. From the volume we learn that books lacked page numbers, chapter headings, and indexes until the 16th century. False. “Islam prohibits images of people in art.” Demonstrably not true. Parchment is of lower quality than vellum. Incomprehensible. The printing press in Europe made scribes “irrelevant.” Incorrect. The entire output of medieval European book production equaled 30,000 volumes. Perplexing. Gutenberg had to hide his work on the printing press for fear of being accused of “dark forces or magic.” I am at a loss

Link to the rest at Public Books

PG notes that the publisher of Handwriting in Early America, University of Massachusetts Press, failed to make Look Inside available.

3 Reasons Refrain in Poetry is Relevant to Freelance Writers

From Making a Living Writing:

What is Refrain in Poetry?

A refrain in poetry is a repeated word, line, or phrase that appears throughout a poem. A good example of refrain that most people will be familiar with is the chorus of a song. This is the part of a song or poem that is easy to remember. 

So what is the purpose of refrain? Well, there are a few reasons why a writer may use this poetic device. Refrain is often is used to reinforce central themes, highlight key ideas or emotions, and to create unity.

In poetry, the refrain is often found at the end of a stanza (think Edgar Allan Poe’s famous “nevermore” in The Raven) to bring everything full circle—tie elements together and leave a lasting impression. 

Why Refrain is Relevant to Freelancers

Freelance writers can use refrain-like elements in creative ways to add style and voice into their work. 

Whether you’re writing articles, copy, or social media posts, incorporating refrain can help emphasize your key points, reinforce your client’s brand and messaging, and increase the artistry in your writing. 

Refrain can change the game.

Here are three ways freelance writers can utilize refrain in poetry.

1. To Emphasize Key Points 

In any piece of writing, the key takeaway often can be summarized into a few words. Using the technique of refrain is one way of making sure your key point does not go unnoticed.

By selectively repeating a certain word or phrase, you can increase your chances of the reader picking up what you’re putting down. 

. . . .

How do you make your key points and your work memorable?

Strategically weaving repeated messaging throughout your writing can create a sense of familiarity. Readers will come to remember this refrain and it will stick with them long after they’re finished reading.

Refrain in poetry guide the reader’s attention toward significant concepts like a flashing neon sign draws the eye. Even if you don’t write poetry, you can employ this same technique in your writing to signal important ideas and arguments. 

Refrain can also be a powerful emotional tool that helps build a deeper connection with readers. When we feel emotionally connected to a writer or their message, we are more likely to engage with the content and take action. 

Refrain can change the game.

2. To Reinforce Brand

There is a lot of noise in the world and strong branding helps you stand out from the crowd Whether you’re promoting your own brand or your client’s, the message is the same—visibility is key!

How will readers connect with and remember one brand over all the others? 

Devices such as refrain in poetry help reinforce brand messaging. In this way, freelance writers contribute to a brand’s overall marketing efforts. 

Refrain can change the game. 

Whether it’s a tagline, jingle, or impactful phrase, refrain can establish brand recognition and reinforce brand identity.

Seeing and reading the same thing over and over again helps to ingrain the message into our brains and creates familiarity.

If you’re looking for ways to add flourish and pizzazz to your marketing campaigns, consider using refrain! Repetition, visibility, and consistency are all elements of strong branding so by finding creative ways to add refrain across all channels (such as social media posts, blog articles, advertising copy, etc.) you’ll create a cohesive and effective campaign with consistent messaging. 

Link to the rest at Making a Living Writing

A New Way to Think About the Lie the Character Believes

From Writers Helping Writers:

One of the simplest entry points to understanding how story works is the Lie the Character Believes. It is the fulcrum of any character arc or thematic discussion within a story. It’s also the gasoline in the engine of a character’s inner conflict—and, by extension, it can either power the outer conflict or at least be used a lens through which to view it.

As its name suggests, the Lie the Character Believes is a simplistic concept, which is exactly what makes it so valuable and utilitarian a tool for understanding story. However, as with all simplistic concepts, we must be careful not to assume it lacks complexity.

Although you can certainly frame your character’s conflict in terms of a black and white Lie/Truth dichotomy, the reality is of course more complex. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today: reality—and how the Lie the Character Believes is, in fact, a gauge of the character’s relationship with reality.

What Is the Lie the Character Believes?

the Lie the Character Believes as arguably the central principle of character transformation. For those who are new to the idea, the Lie the Character Believes is the mindset the character will be challenged to arc out of over the course of the story.

If the character succeeds in transcending the Lie, the story will follow a Positive Change Arc. If the protagonist already adheres to the story’s thematic Truth and inspires supporting characters to transcend the Lie, the story will offer a Flat Arc. And if the character fails to transcend the Lie, the story will present a Negative Change Arc (of which there are at least three variations).

The Lie is a limited perspective the character holds about himself or about the world. Up until the beginning of the story, it is a perspective that has offered relative value to the character and his ability to survive and succeed within the story’s “Normal World.” However, once the character enters the crucible of what will be the story’s Adventure World, everything changes. The Lie proves itself to no longer be a functional modus operandi. From here on the, character will be challenged to adapt to the story’s thematic Truth. Only if he succeeds in (usually painfully) the expanding his perspective will he be able to grapple with the main conflict and perhaps gain the plot goal he is pursuing.

As we explored a few weeks ago, the Lie is distinct from but still closely tied in with other aspects of the character’s primary “pain point.” The Lie will usually arise from a painful experience in the character’s past—called the Ghost—which informs her way of perceiving how the world works. Very often, the Ghost will have caused a wound the character carries with her and which makes her cling even more desperately to the Lie in the belief it is somehow protecting her. This belief may be entirely accurate, or it may simply be a trauma response.

Over the course of the character’s arc, the Lie will be systematically challenged by the events of the plot. The character will slowly begin to see another possibility—the enlarged perspective of the thematic Truth. Particularly at the story’s Midpoint, he will face a Moment of Truth, in which he is able to see the validity of the new perspective even though he is not yet willing to relinquish the familiar Lie-based mindset. By the time the character reaches the Low Moment of the Third Plot Point and is faced with the impending Climax, he will have to choose whether he is willing to sacrifice the comfortable mindsets upon which he has so far depended, in order to allow himself space to the grow into the possibilities of the bigger Truth.

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

PG notes that there are a lot of links in the OP and the author of the OP provides links to a book he has written on the subject of Character Arcs.

I was fired by a client for using AI. I’m not going to stop because it’s doubled my output, but I’m more clear about how I use it.

From Insider:

I work a full-time job in marketing and do freelance writing on the side. 

I was juggling a lot when a longtime client commissioned me for a three-month project. It entailed writing a series of how-to guides and 56 articles for their site.

Since I couldn’t clone myself, I tried what I thought would be the next best thing: I used AI.

Convinced that I could use the new technology to meet extremely tight deadlines, I started using Jasper.ai to produce up to 20 pieces in a month for this client.

. . . .

I was using AI to clone myself as a writer

I essentially used Jasper.ai as an extension of myself.

I’d let Jasper write articles of up to 2,500 words. I used it more than alternatives such as ChatGPT or Bard because it has pre-built templates that function as prompts. 

If I needed to expand on a sentence, I’d use Jasper’s “paragraph generator” or “commands” tool. If I needed to rewrite a sentence, I’d click on “content improver.” These features helped me overcome writer’s block and quickly build out long-form articles.

Jasper did most of the work and I did minimal editing.

After working together for months, my client started using one of the first AI-content detectors. Upon discovering the content I gave them was AI-generated, they terminated our agreement and paid me less than 40% of the original fee after I’d delivered all the articles we’d agreed on.

While this was not the outcome I intended, it shifted my mindset on how to use AI to keep clients rather than lose them.

I learned a valuable lesson the hard way — AI is a tool, not something that should replace you.

Looking back, I know things weren’t right when I was letting AI do the work and not communicating this to my client.

. . . .

Here’s how I use AI differently now:

AI is now a crucial part of my initial discussions with new clients

I ask if the client’s OK with me using AI-writing tools. If not, great; I won’t use it. If they see the value or don’t care whether I use them, then I’ll use them to enhance the quality and depth of what I write.

I use AI to enhance my draft

Some writers use AI to write a draft, then edit it to sound more human. I use it the other way around.

I draft the article first, then use an AI tool to enhance it and ensure I’ve maintained the client’s tone of voice. 

I’d typically beef a draft up with some of Jasper’s templates — using the paragraph generator to expand a sentence into a paragraph, or using the content improver to rewrite text based on tone of voice or type of content. 

Sometimes, Jasper will tell me additional things I can cover, so I’ll include them and support them with expert insights and examples.

I use AI to give me ideas on sources and statistics

Similarly to ChatGPT, Jasper is vulnerable to making mistakes with sources and research; its developers remind users to fact-check any statistics the tool provides. I regard the information it gives as a placeholder that gives me ideas for the kinds of sources, statistics, or websites I can seek out myself. 

The key is always treating statistics and other hard evidence that AI produces as a suggestion.

AI helps with the tone of voice and brand voice

I’ll use Jasper to help me rewrite or add flair to a sentence using the “tone of voice” or “brand voice” features. I could even type in “Ryan Reynolds” and Jasper will rewrite a plain paragraph to sound like the actor.

AI helps with condensing large volumes of text

AI helps me summarize my research findings and insights from relevant subject-matter experts. I’ll upload snippets of a transcript, and the tool will return a condensed paragraph that still includes the salient points.

AI has cut my writing time in half

Link to the rest at Insider

Germany’s ContentShift Accelerator: Six 2023 Finalists

From Publishing Perspectives:

Earlier this month, as you’ll recall, we reported the Top 10 start-ups chosen by Germany’s eighth international ContentShift accelerator program for book-publishing-related companies.

Today (June 28), the Börsenvereinsgruppe has announced the six shortlisted finalists, which will go into competition for the program’s conclusion.

All of this culminates in a winning start-up, which will receive €10,000 euros (US$10,900). And all participating start-ups have exclusive access to members of the program’s jury, which comprises decision-makers from the book industry. Jurors provide the start-ups with advice, support, and contacts during three intensive workshop days in September.

The jury then will decide who is to become “Start-up of the Year 2023,” after a public pitch round on October 19 of that top five at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22).

ContentShift’s 2023 Finalists
  • Bookscreener from LeReTo offers an interactive, multi-disciplinary research and book tool that can make publishers’ specialist book inventory accessible. With interactive elements, it should make research for specialist knowledge more enjoyable.
  • GoLexic offers a children’s reading promotional app that can be used at home or at school. The app allows children to work independently through 15-minute training sessions, working on skills that help improve reading and spelling.
  • Lit-X makes literature success transparent and predictable based on data. For this purpose, the start-up offers dashboards and applications such as “trend scouting” and “pricing.” For example, publishers can take a look at the success drivers of a genre, compare them, and calculate probabilities of success by modifying factors.
  • Summ AI describes itself as “Google Translate for easy language”: The AI-based tool translates complicated text into “easy language” defined in the area of ​​accessibility, for example creating texts with shorter sentences, an “easy” choice of words, and accessible explanations.
  • To Teach, Thea’s platform, uses AI to enable educational providers to digitize and enrich analog content easily, to create digital content, and to play it out to a target group. The platform helps with the creation of exercises, as well as with worksheets and other teaching materials consisting of text, audio, and gamification.
  • XigXag has developed an app that combines listening and reading concepts along with a social platform. Listeners can switch between listening and reading for a single fee. They also get access to note-taking, quote sharing, word and illustration lookups, and community.

Speaking for the panel, jury spokesperson Per Dalheimer of Hugendubel is quoted today, saying, “This year’s six finalists cover key, forward-looking fields within the book industry.

“Each one of them brings new impulses to the table, including the fostering of reading skills, greater accessibility, and information processing.

“Their use of artificial intelligence as a kind of turbo booster helps to break down barriers and enable easier, lower-threshold access to books. We’re delighted about the incredible range of creative ideas made visible by the accelerator every year. Each one helps to drive our industry further.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG routinely removes any links from items he excerpts. In this case he didn’t because he found some of the product descriptions interesting and thought others might find some or all of the startups interesing.

An Experiment with ChatGPT

Write the first paragraph for a children’s book that includes a little girl, a unicorn and a lazy wolf.

Once upon a time in the enchanting land of Fairytale Meadows, lived a spirited little girl named Lily. Lily had golden curls that danced in the wind, and her eyes sparkled with curiosity. One day, while exploring the magical forest, she stumbled upon a magical unicorn named Sparkle, whose shimmering mane glowed with all the colors of the rainbow. Little did they know that their adventure was about to get even more exciting, for lurking behind a moss-covered tree was a lazy but lovable wolf named Wally, who preferred napping to chasing his prey.

What magic powers did sparkle, a magic unicorn possess?

Sparkle, the magical unicorn, possessed a wondrous array of enchanting powers that filled the hearts of all who encountered her with awe. First and foremost, her horn sparkled with an iridescent glow, allowing her to channel the purest magic in the realm. Sparkle possessed the ability to grant wishes, turning dreams into reality with a single touch of her shimmering horn. She could also create dazzling trails of rainbow-colored stardust, lighting up the night sky with a celestial spectacle. With her gentle presence, Sparkle could communicate with animals, bridging the gap between the magical and natural worlds. Her magic powers were boundless, bringing joy, love, and hope to all who crossed paths with the extraordinary unicorn.

Why was Wally the wolf so lazy?

Wally the wolf was known throughout Fairytale Meadows for his undeniable laziness. Unlike other wolves who roamed the forest with vigor and determination, Wally had a penchant for relaxation and a strong aversion to exerting himself unnecessarily. He preferred the comfort of his cozy den, where he would spend hours curled up in a fuzzy ball, snuggled amongst soft moss and leaves. Wally believed that life was too short to waste on constant running and hunting, and he saw no need to chase after his meals when there were abundant berries and fruits available nearby. His laziness, though unconventional, brought a sense of tranquility and balance to the bustling woodland, and his gentle nature made him a beloved character among the creatures of Fairytale Meadows.

What did Sparkle do to get Wally to do some useful work for Lily?

As Sparkle and Lily ventured deeper into Fairytale Meadows, they encountered a challenge that required Wally’s assistance. Knowing Wally’s affinity for relaxation, Sparkle cleverly devised a plan to motivate the lazy wolf. With a mischievous twinkle in her eye, Sparkle whispered a magical spell that awakened Wally’s sense of adventure and duty. The spell cast a spell of enchantment upon Wally, filling him with newfound energy and a sense of purpose. Suddenly, Wally’s laziness transformed into determination, and he eagerly offered his assistance to Lily and Sparkle. Recognizing the importance of their quest, Wally became a loyal companion, ready to help Lily in any way he could. With Sparkle’s magical touch and a sprinkle of motivation, Wally discovered the joy of lending a helping paw, embarking on a journey that would unveil his hidden potential and forge a lasting bond with his newfound friends.

Did Sparkle have to remind Wally not to be lazy?

While Sparkle appreciated Wally’s newfound motivation and willingness to help, she occasionally had to remind him to resist his natural inclination for laziness. Sparkle understood that change takes time, and habits can be hard to break. So, whenever Wally’s laziness threatened to resurface, Sparkle would gently nudge him with her velvety muzzle, reminding him of the importance of their mission and the joy they could bring to others by working together. With each gentle reminder, Wally would shake off his sluggishness and recommit himself to being an active participant in their adventures. Sparkle’s encouragement and patient guidance helped Wally overcome his lazy tendencies, inspiring him to become a more dependable and enthusiastic companion for Lily and Sparkle.

What dangers threatened Lily as she walked around Fairyland Meadows?

As Lily traversed the enchanting Fairyland Meadows, she encountered a few perils that tested her bravery and quick thinking. Deep within the forest, Lily came across treacherous thorny thickets that seemed to close in on her from all sides, challenging her to find a way through without getting entangled. She also encountered mischievous sprites that played tricks and created illusions, making it difficult for Lily to find her way home. At times, Lily faced sudden storms with gusty winds that threatened to whisk her away, and she had to seek shelter and find her footing amidst the chaos. Additionally, there were misbehaving magical creatures that, although harmless at heart, could unintentionally cause a bit of chaos and mischief. But with the help of Sparkle’s magic and Wally’s newfound diligence, Lily was able to navigate these dangers and emerge triumphant, growing stronger and more resilient with each challenge she faced.

What is the end of the story about Lily, Sparkle and Wally in Fairyland Meadows?

In the end, after overcoming numerous obstacles and forging a remarkable bond, Lily, Sparkle, and Wally emerged as heroes of Fairyland Meadows. Through their collective courage, kindness, and determination, they brought harmony and joy to the enchanted realm. Lily’s unwavering spirit and innate curiosity inspired others to embrace adventure and explore the wonders of the world. Sparkle’s magical powers continued to grant wishes, spreading hope and fulfilling dreams throughout the land. Wally, having discovered his true potential, became a trusted guardian and loyal friend, always ready to lend a helping paw. Together, they brought laughter, love, and enchantment to every corner of Fairyland Meadows, leaving a lasting legacy of friendship and magic. And as the sun set on their final adventure, Lily, Sparkle, and Wally knew that their incredible journey was just the beginning of a lifetime filled with extraordinary tales and everlasting friendships in the magical realm they called home.

Then PG asked ChatGPT to regenerate a response to the final prompt it used to create the paragraph above: What is the end of the story about Lily, Sparkle and Wally in Fairyland Meadows?

In the grand finale of Lily’s adventure in Fairyland Meadows, she, Sparkle, and Wally united their strengths and talents to overcome the final and most formidable obstacle. A wicked sorceress, jealous of the trio’s bond and the joy they spread, cast a powerful spell of darkness, threatening to shroud the entire land in eternal gloom. Undeterred by the daunting task, Lily’s unwavering determination inspired Sparkle and Wally to tap into their true potential. Sparkle summoned her most potent magic, creating a radiant barrier of light that pushed back the darkness, while Wally’s swift agility and keen senses helped guide them through the treacherous path. Together, they confronted the sorceress, their unity and friendship shining as a beacon of hope. With Lily’s pure heart and unwavering belief in the power of goodness, the sorceress’s spell was shattered, and Fairyland Meadows was bathed in a glorious resurgence of light and joy. As a testament to their extraordinary bond, Lily, Sparkle, and Wally were hailed as heroes, forever celebrated for their bravery and their ability to bring light and love to all corners of Fairyland Meadows. From that day forward, their friendship flourished, and they continued to embark on magical adventures, spreading happiness and enchantment wherever they roamed.

PG concludes that, even with the help of artificial intelligence, he’s not likely to be the next Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, E.B. White or J.K. Rowling

English Capitalization Rules

From The Grammarly Blog:

English capitalization rules require that certain words, like proper nouns and the first word in a sentence, start with a capital letter. Although that seems simple, some words are capitalized only in certain situations, and some words seem like they should be capitalized but are not—how can you tell which is which?

In this guide, we explain how to capitalize when writing and cover all the English capitalization rules. We also share a list of what words need to be capitalized and provide a few capitalization examples. But first let’s talk a little about capitalization in general.

English capitalization rules: When to capitalize

Knowing which types of words to capitalize is the most important part of learning English capitalization rules. Basically, there are three types of words you capitalize in English:

  • the pronoun I
  • the first word in a sentence or line of a letter (e.g., Sincerely)
  • proper nouns

That last one, proper nouns, is where a lot of the confusion comes from. Some words, like the name Albert Einstein, are always capitalized; however, others are capitalized only in certain situations and are lowercased in others. For example, directions like north and west are normally lowercased but are capitalized when they’re used as part of a geographic name, like the West Coast.

Let’s take a closer look at what words need to be capitalized and when.

What words need to be capitalized?

People’s names

Both the first and last names of a person are capitalized. Likewise, middle names, nicknames, and suffixes like Jr. are also capitalized.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Historical names that include descriptive words often follow the rules for title capitalization: Prominent words are capitalized, but small words like the or of are not.

Ivan the Terrible

Maria of Aragon


Capitalization in titles is where a lot of capitalization errors come from. The title of any piece of work—books, movies, songs, poems, podcast episodes, comic-book issues, etc.—requires capitalization, but only certain words in the title are capitalized.

What words need to be capitalized in titles? For starters, the first word in a title is always capitalized. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs all need to be capitalized in titles as well.

Small words like articles and prepositions are generally lowercased, unless they’re the first word in a title. However, some style guides have their own preferences, so double-check if you have any doubts.

The Catcher in the Rye

Of Mice and Men


If you’re using the name of a place, capitalize it. This applies to everything from tiny Deer Creek to the massive planet Jupiter.

New York City

Lake Victoria

Keep in mind that if you are not using the name of a place but the general word to describe it, you do not capitalize that word.

The Grand Canyon is a good canyon, but I wouldn’t call it “grand.”

Countries, nationalities, and languages

In English, countries, nationalit ies, and languages are capitalized. Country names fall under the category of places, but by extension the names of the people who live there and the adjective form of their culture are also capitalized. This includes languages.


a team of Haitians

Haitian cuisine

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

Grammarly Day

PG is making an exception to his normal practice of flitting here and there to find posting material for TPV. All posts today are from the Grammarly Blog.

PG acknowledges there are several different grammar-checkers available to authors. He has glanced at a handful, but never been seduced by any of them, except Grammarly.

Grammarly was founded in April 1, 2009. At first, it was named Sentenceworks. The founders were Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko. The programmer who wrote the first version of Grammarly was Dmytro Lider. If you note a certain something about these names, you’d be correct. They’re all from Ukraine.

PG was the first person he knew who used Grammarly. He suspects he bought the first release, but doesn’t remember the exact date of his discovery. Regardless of when it happened, for PG, Grammarly was love at first sight.

Grammarly has been available on every computer, personal or corporate, PG has used ever since. He’s used it on a gazillion legal documents and everything else that he has shown to anybody else. He just discovered, there’s a version of Grammarly that runs on his iPhone and iPad, so he’ll be getting those apps as soon as he finishes this blog.

PG just realized that he needed to see if there is a Grammarly plug-in for TPV post creation.

He’ll be back tomorrow.


PG does have Grammarly on his Chrome browser and Grammarly for Windows and his iPad and iPhone.

Obviously, PG needs to lie down and take a nap.

5 Ways to Use a Semicolon, With Examples

From The Grammarly Blog:

What is a semicolon?

Semicolons (;) are as basic as a period stacked on top of a comma. Does that mean you can use it like either one? Don’t get your hopes up. But don’t let this punctuation mark get you down either.

How to use a semicolon correctly

The most common use of the semicolon is to join two independent clauses without using a coordinating conjunction like and.

Do you use a capital letter after a semicolon? The general answer is no. A semicolon should be followed by a capitalized word only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.

We can go to the museum to do some research; Mondays are pretty quiet there.

Remember, semicolons are not interchangeable with commas or periods. Instead, they’re somewhere in between: stronger than a comma but not quite as divisive as a period. Sounds pretty cunning to us.

Here are the rules for using semicolons correctly; we hope you’re taking notes.

Use semicolons to connect related independent clauses

You can use a semicolon to join two closely related independent clauses. Let’s put that another way. The group of words that comes before the semicolon should form a complete sentence, the group of words that comes after the semicolon should form a complete sentence, and the two sentences should share a close, logical connection:

I ordered a cheeseburger for lunch; life’s too short for counting calories.

Martha has gone to the library; her sister has gone to play soccer.

The examples above are each made up of two complete, grammatically correct sentences glued together.

That’s exactly why you can’t substitute a comma for a semicolon. Using a comma instead of a semicolon in the sentences above would result in a comma splice. And there’s nothing as painful as a comma splice.

Skip the coordinating conjunction when you use a semicolon between two independent clauses

A semicolon isn’t the only thing that can link two independent clauses. Coordinating conjunctions (that’s your ands, buts, and ors) can do that too. But you shouldn’t use a semicolon and a conjunction. That means that when you use a semicolon, you use it instead of the ands, buts, and ors; you don’t need both.

Here’s a hint: You know how you can use a comma and an and to link two related ideas? Think of the period that forms the top part of the semicolon as a replacement for and.

I saw a magnificent albatross, and it was eating a mouse.

I saw a magnificent albatross; it was eating a mouse.

You need a comma plus something to avoid a comma splice. That something can either be the right conjunction or the period that turns a comma into a semicolon.

A semicolon can replace a period or a comma and a coordinating conjunction to demonstrate contrast between independent clauses instead of agreement. This is part of the same rule, but the conjunction in question is but instead of and. In other words:

This is part of the same rule; the conjunction in question is but instead of and.

To summarize, a semicolon links up two related ideas by narrowing the gap between the ideas of two separate sentences or by replacing a coordinating conjunction between the ideas. That goes for showing contrast too: just because two ideas are opposed or contradictory, that doesn’t mean they aren’t related closely enough to earn themselves a semicolon.

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

Passive Voice: When to Avoid It and When to Use It

From The Grammarly Blog:

The passive voice is often maligned by teachers and professors as a bad writing habit. Or, to put that in the active voice: Teachers and professors across the English-speaking world malign the passive voice as a bad writing habit.

What is the passive voice?

In general, the active voice makes your writing stronger, more direct, and, you guessed it, more active. The subject is something, or it does the action of the verb in the sentence. With the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by some other performer of the verb. (In case you weren’t paying attention, the previous two sentences use the type of voice they describe.)

But the passive voice is not incorrect. In fact, there are times when it can come in handy. Read on to learn how to form the active and passive voices, when using the passive voice is a good idea, and how to avoid confusing it with similar forms.

The difference between active and passive voice

While tense is all about time references, voice describes whether the grammatical subject of a clause performs or receives the action of the verb.

Here’s the formula for the active voice:

[subject]+[verb (performed by the subject)]+[optional object]

Chester kicked the ball.

In a passive voice construction, the grammatical subject of the clause receives the action of the verb. So the ball from the above sentence, which is receiving the action, becomes the subject. The formula:

[subject]+[some form of the verb to be]+[past participle of a transitive verb]+[optional prepositional phrase]

The ball was kicked by Chester.

That last little bit—“by Chester”—is a prepositional phrase that tells you who the performer of the action is. But even though Chester is the one doing the kicking, he’s no longer the grammatical subject. A passive voice construction can even drop him from the sentence entirely:

The ball was kicked.

How’s that for anticlimactic?

When (and when not) to use the passive voice

If you’re writing anything with a definitive subject that is performing an action, you’ll be better off using the active voice. And if you search your document for occurrences of was, is, or were and your page lights up with instances of passive voice, it may be a good idea to switch to active voice.

That said, there are times when the passive voice does a better job of presenting an idea, especially when the performer of the action of a sentence’s verb is very general or diffuse, is unknown, or should get less emphasis than the recipient of that action, including in certain formal, professional, and legal contexts. Here are five common uses of the passive voice:

1 In broad statements about widely held opinions or social norms

Tipping less than 20 percent is now considered rude.

The writer of this sentence is communicating that they believe enough people share the opinion that tipping less than 20 percent is rude to qualify as a consensus. In other words, the performer of the action—the people doing the considering—is so general that it can be left out of the sentence entirely.

2 In reports of crimes with unknown perpetrators or other actions with unknown doers

My car was stolen yesterday.

If you knew who stole the car, you might be closer to getting it back. The passive voice here emphasizes the stolen item and the action of theft.

The grass was cut yesterday.

The emphasis here is on the grass, which presumably is observably shorter. Someone must have cut it, but whoever it was is not the concern of this sentence.

3 In scientific contexts

The rat was placed in a T-shaped maze.

Who placed the rat in the maze? Scientists, duh. But that’s less important than the experiment they’re conducting. Therefore, passive voice.

4 When the writer or speaker wants to avoid blame

Sometimes, someone wants to acknowledge that something unpleasant happened without making it crystal -clear who’s at fault. The classic example:

Mistakes were made.”

Who made them? Is anyone taking responsibility? What’s the solution here? One political scientist dubbed this kind of construction the “past exonerative” because it’s meant to exonerate the speaker/writer from whatever foul may have been committed. In other words, drop the subject, get off the hook.

5 In any other situation where you want to keep the focus on an action and/or the recipient of the action

The president was sworn in on a cold January morning.

How many people can remember off the top of their heads who swears in presidents? Clearly, the occasion of swearing in the commander in chief is the thing to emphasize here.

Cleo was transformed by the experience of traveling alone in Latin America.

In this case, we know what brought about the action: It was the experience of traveling alone in South America. But the thing the sentence most urgently wants us to know is that a person, Cleo, had an important thing happen to them. So making the recipient of the action (Cleo) the subject of the sentence, using the passive voice, and tucking the performer of the action (the experience) after the action as the object of the preposition by makes sense.

In each of the above contexts, the action itself—or the person or thing receiving the action—is the part that matters. That means the performer of the action can be absent from the sentence altogether or appear in a prepositional phrase with by. Although some of these examples are formal, others show that the passive voice is often useful and necessary in daily life. In each of the sentences below, the passive voice is natural and clear for one of the reasons in the list above. Rewriting these sentences in the active voice renders them sterile, awkward, or syntactically contorted.

Passive: Bob Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident.

Active: A motorcycle accident injured Bob Dylan.

Passive: Elvis is rumored to be alive.

Active: People rumor Elvis to be alive.

Passive: Don’t be fooled!

Active: Don’t allow anything to fool you!

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

11 Types of Poetry to Know, With Examples

From The Grammarly Blog:

Poetry is a broad literary category that covers a variety of writing, including bawdy limericks, unforgettable song lyrics, and even the sentimental couplets inside greeting cards. Some kinds of poetry have few rules, while others have a rigid structure. That can make poetry feel hard to define, but the variety is also what makes it enjoyable. Through poetry, writers can express themselves in ways they can’t always through prose.

There are more than 150 types of poetry from cultures all over the world. Here, we’ll look at some of the key types of poetry to know, explain how they’re structured, and give plenty of examples.

. . . .

Key poetry terms

To better understand the differences between types of poetry, it’s important to know the following poetry terms:

Rhyme: Repeated sounds in two or more words. Usually, rhyming sounds are at the ends of words, but this is not always the case. A poem’s rhyme scheme is the pattern its rhymes follow.

Meter: A poem’s meter is its rhythmic structure. The number of syllables in a line and their emphasis compose a poem’s meter.

Form: The overall structure of a poem is known as its form. A poem’s form can determine its meter and rhyme scheme.

Stanza: A stanza is a section of a poem. Think of it like a verse in a song or a paragraph in an essay. Stanzas compose a poem’s form. In a poem, the stanzas can all fit the same meter, or they can vary.

Not all poems have a rhyme scheme, a form, or a meter. A poem might have one or two of these, or it could have all three. Many types of poetry are defined by a specific form, rhyme scheme, or meter. When you set out to write a poem, think about which form—if any—best suits your subject matter. Generally, poetic forms don’t include rules for using punctuation, such as periods and quotation marks, so you have some wiggle room with these.

. . . .

11 types of poems to know

1 Acrostic

You might remember writing acrostic poems in elementary school. In an acrostic poem, the lines are arranged so the first letter in each line helps to spell out a word. Here’s an example:

Perfect tool for writing on the fly Evolution from quills to fountains, ballpoints to rollerballs No touchscreen or keyboard can replicate the satisfaction of writing by hand

The lines in an acrostic poem can be full lines or single words. There is no required meter or rhyme scheme for acrostic poems; the only requirement is to form a word using the first letter of each line.

2 Ballad

There’s a reason so many songs are also called ballads—ballads are narrative poems characterized by their melodious rhyme scheme. A ballad can be any length, but it must be a series of rhyming quatrains. These quatrains, four-line stanzas, can follow any rhyme scheme. Commonly, the quatrains in a ballad follow an ABCB pattern, like this quatrain from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”:

And through the drifts the snowy clifts 
Did send a dismal sheen 
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken— 
The ice was all between

An ABCB rhyme scheme refers to the order of the repeated sounds at the end of each line. Here’s a quick example:

A: I write every day B: Someday, I’ll finish my book C: But sometimes I get so immersed B: That I forget to cook!

ABCB isn’t the only acceptable rhyme scheme for ballads. Some follow an ABAB scheme, which means the first and third lines rhyme, and the second and fourth lines rhyme. Whichever rhyme scheme a ballad follows, the rhyme and meter give the poem a feeling of musicality.

3 Elegy

Unlike our previous entries, there are no length or form rules for elegies. However, there is a content requirement: Elegies are about death.

Generally, elegies are reflective and written to mourn an individual or group. They also frequently end with lines about hope and redemption. Elegies originated in ancient Greece, and over time, they morphed into the mourning poems we know them as today.

“Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a well-known elegy. Take a look at this excerpt:

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

4 Epic

There’s a reason the adjective epic refers to things that are huge, complex, and/or over-the-top: Epics are long, detailed poems that tell fantastical stories of larger-than-life characters. These stories can be fictional, historical, or historical with a generous helping of fiction and drama to heighten the emotion.

Epics have a long history. In fact, The Epic of Gilgamesh, considered by many to be the oldest surviving piece of literature, is an epic poem. Here is a snippet from the epic’s more than 2,000 words:

When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man.

5 Free verse

Free verse poetry explicitly does away with a consistent rhyme scheme and meter. A free verse poem can be long or short, and it can cover any subject matter—as long as it doesn’t have a consistent rhyme scheme or meter, it’s a free verse poem!

“Autumn” by T.E. Hulme is example of a short free verse poem:

A touch of cold in the Autumn night— I walked abroad, 
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge Like a red-faced farmer. 
I did not stop to speak, but nodded, 
And round about were the wistful stars With white faces like town children.

Free verse vs. blank verse

While their names are similar, free verse poetry is quite different from blank verse poetry. Blank verse poetry is poetry with a specific meter, but no rhyme scheme. Although many blank verse poems are written in iambic pentameter, this is not a requirement. The only requirements for blank verse poetry are that the poem not rhyme and that it adheres to a consistent meter.

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

Character Type & Trope Thesaurus Entry: Hero

From Writers Helping Writers:

Character Type & Trope Thesaurus Entry: Hero

In 1959, Carl Jung first popularized the idea of archetypes—”universal images that have existed since the remotest times.” He posited that every person is a blend of these 12 basic personalities. Ever since then, authors have been applying this idea to fictional characters, combining the different archetypes to come up with interesting new versions. The result is a sizable pool of character tropes that we see from one story to another.

Archetypes and tropes are popular storytelling elements because of their familiarity. Upon seeing them, readers know immediately who they’re dealing with and what role the nerd, dark lord, femme fatale, or monster hunter will play. As authors, we need to recognize the commonalities for each trope so we can write them in a recognizable way and create a rudimentary sketch for any character we want to create.

But when it comes to characters, no one wants just a sketch; we want a vibrant and striking cast full of color, depth, and contrast. Diving deeper into character creation is especially important when starting with tropes because the blessing of their familiarity is also a curse; without differentiation, the characters begin to look the same from story to story.

But no more. The Character Type and Trope Thesaurus allows you to outline the foundational elements of each trope while also exploring how to individualize them. In this way, you’ll be able to use historically tried-and-true character types to create a cast for your story that is anything but traditional.

Hero (Archetype)

DESCRIPTION: Heroes are driven to fight for the oppressed and defend the defenseless, and they succeed by employing their own specific mix of strengths, talents, and skills. In addition, some form of sacrifice is usually required for them to win.

NOTES: In the context of storytelling, the terms hero and protagonist are used interchangeably, but when it comes to archetypes, the two are distinctly different. A protagonist (the main character whose goal drives the story) with the characteristics described above will be a hero. But not every protagonist is a hero; it’s actually quite common for secondary characters to play this archetypal character. As an example, in Where the Crawdads Sing, Kya is the protagonist of the story, but its her lawyer, Tom Milton, who represents the hero type.

Secondly, please note that “hero” in the context of this entry is used as a gender-neutral term, similar to artist, athlete, or doctor.

FICTIONAL EXAMPLES: Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series), Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter (The Help), Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: A New Hope), Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)

Adventurous, Bold, Confident, Courageous, Disciplined, Focused, Honorable, Idealistic, Independent, Industrious, Inspirational, Intelligent, Just, Persistent, Resourceful, Responsible, Talented

Cocky, Nosy, Obsessive, Perfectionist, Pushy, Stubborn, Workaholic

Having a specific goal in mind and working toward it
Gathering allies that complement them and assist in the pursuit of the goal
Having a strong moral code
Being sensitive to injustice
Speaking up or stepping forward when others won’t
Utilizing certain strengths or skills in the pursuit of their goal
Making sacrifices to achieve the goal
Struggling with personal flaws or demons
Learning from their mistakes
Seeking to learn or improve skills and abilities that will aid them in their task
Standing up for the vulnerable or defenseless
Difficulty accepting viewpoints that go against their own moral code
Overconfidence and cockiness
Trying to do things on their own instead of depending on or working with others
Taking too long to self-correct
Difficulty taking orders or advice from others

Losing a minor confrontation with an adversary
Being betrayed by an ally
The death of a mentor
Facing a setback that makes success seem impossible
Having to make a decision that will result, either way, in someone being hurt
Being unable to save someone
Being pitted against a seemingly undefeatable enemy
Not being in control
Loved ones not supporting the character in the pursuit of their goal

A strength becoming a weakness—e.g., John Nash’s mental acumen being compromised with the onset of schizophrenia (A Beautiful Mind)
Having to change course and not knowing what to do
A significant failure causing the hero to doubt themselves
Recognizing a weakness but struggling to deal with it or do things differently
Having to make a decision between the goal and important people in the hero’s life
Being tempted to give in to temptation or take a shortcut along the way
An ego-driven mistake harming the people the hero is trying to help or protect

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

For those unfamiliar with Writers Helping Writers, it contains a huge number of tools that writers may find very helpful.

Here’s a video that demonstrates some of the tools. (PG apologizes if you have to watch a couple of YouTube ads before getting into the video. He hates that YouTube has jammed itself full of ads.)

The Tools And Services I Use In My Author Business

From The Creative Penn:

Writing and editing

Scrivener — for writing first draft fiction and non-fiction, keeping notes, organizing, and restructuring. Tutorial here for fiction and non-fiction.

ProWritingAid — for self-editing.

The Blue Garret — Kristen Tate is my (human) editor. Interview with Kristen on editing here.

Sudowrite — for expanding sensory detail like a thesaurus on steroids and co-writing assistant. Tutorial here.

ChatGPT — for character ideas, plot ideas, brainstorming, and world-building. I’m on the paid plan so I’ve been using the GPT4 model which is a step change to GPT3. More on futurist topics here.

. . . .

Publishing and Distribution

Vellum — ebook formatting. Tutorial here. Vellum is Mac only, but you can also use Atticus for Mac or PC.

JD Smith Design — Jane does my book cover design and interior print design and formatting

Amadeus Pro — audiobook recording and editing. You can also use free software Audacity. I have a home audio booth. You can find lots more detail on audiobooks in my book, Audio for Authors.

Hindenberg Narrator — for audiobook mastering to ACX and Findaway standards

Ebook publishing — Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, Apple Books, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive

Audiobook publishing — FindawayVoices, ACX (for Audible, non-exclusive)

Print publishing — Amazon KDP Print (for Amazon only), Ingram Spark for wide distribution, bookstores, libraries etc.

Direct sales — Shopify, Bookfunnel for ebooks and audio, Bookvault.app for print, Kickstarter for crowdfunding.

Link to the rest at The Creative Penn where there are links to all the services mentioned.

Atticus Experience

As PG hinted in his prior post, he was using a new tool to help prepare Mrs. PG’s next book for publication.

The tool is Atticus.

On the plus side, Atticus makes it easy to format good-looking ebooks and paperbacks. PG will show an example at the bottom of this post.

PG thinks Atticus can do a better job of formatting a good-looking ebook or POD paperback or hard cover than most indie authors could do without outsourcing the job to an outside designer.

Atticus also provides a word processor function so an author can write using the software as well. It’s not in the same class as MS Word, but includes features like a total word count and due date function with the ability to select which days you plan to write. Another writing feature captures the word count per day on your writing days.

PG doesn’t think that someone who is a power-user with a word processor will be inclined to dump it for Atticus, but, if all you need to do is write books, it includes all the basics that you may be using with your present word processor.

The real strength of Atticus (at least in PG’s eyes) is the ability to produce good-looking ebooks and print books. The program includes nine attractive book themes for both ebook and print purposes. You can also customize the themes or build your own. Page numbers, footers and headers plus various page layouts are a click of a mouse key away.

PG’s first thought was that Atticus is what KDP should have built in place of its long-standing boring and inflexible ebook templates.

The price is a flat $147 with no ongoing subscription payments. This is a nice change from all the $XX per month online services that combine to balloon your monthly credit card payment if you sign up for too many of them.

Whether Atticus can do a better job for an indie author than a professional book designer is a judgment call. PG suspects that most indie authors will cover the cost of Atticus with their first book compared with using a professional designer.

For those who use KDP templates, Atticus is a giant step up. Whether your readers (or readers you don’t have) will respond positively to better-looking books is a judgement call, but PG thinks most people will enjoy a better Look Inside impression than KDP templates provide.

Here’s a link to Atticus

PG screen-grabbed a PDF of the first page of Mrs. PG’s next book so you can see it below with the bottom cut off:

Why the floppy disk just won’t die

From Ars Technica:

When Mark Necaise got down to his last four floppy disks at a rodeo in Mississippi in February, he started to worry.

Necaise travels to horse shows around the state, offering custom embroidery on jackets and vests: “All of the winners would get a jacket and we’d put the name of the farm or the name of the horse or whatever on it,” he says.

Five years ago, he paid $18,000 for a second-hand machine, manufactured in 2004 by the Japanese embroidery equipment specialist Tajima. The only way to transfer the designs from his computer to the machine was via floppy disk.

“We started with eight disks, but four of them stopped working, which made me very uneasy,” he says. “I tried reformatting them in order to get them to work properly, but it didn’t work. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to continue with the embroidery.”

Back when Necaise’s Tajima machine was made, floppy disks were still in mass production—and were particularly popular in Japan, where they were used for official government procedures until last year. Even though the last major manufacturer of floppy disks stopped making them in 2010, the machines that rely on them—from embroidery machines to plastic molding, medical equipment to aircraft—live on, relying on a dwindling supply of disks that will one day run out.

“I personally think that the floppy disk should die,” says Florian Cramer, a writer and filmmaker who, in 2009, shrank every Oscar-nominated film from that year into animated GIFs on two floppy disks, as a commentary on Hollywood’s digital piracy crackdown. “Objectively it’s a toxic medium. It’s basically plastic waste… It’s really something that should no longer exist.”

. . . .

Most of the companies still using floppy disks are small businesses or companies running on tight margins who either simply never got around to upgrading their equipment or found it too expensive to do so.

Davit Niazashvili, a maintenance manager at Geosky, a cargo airline based in Tbilisi, Georgia, still uses floppy disks to apply critical updates to two 36-year-old 747-200s, which were originally delivered to British Airways in 1987: “When an update is released, we need to download it to two 3.5-inch floppy disks. There are no computers with built-in floppy drives left, so we had to source an external one,” Niazashvili says. “Then we take the disks to the aircraft to update the flight management system. The operation takes about an hour.”

The updates contain essential data, such as changes to runways and navigational aids, and are released every 28 days according to a fixed global schedule, which is already set through 2029.

“Nowadays it’s very hard to obtain floppy disks. We actually get them from Amazon,” Niazashvili says. “They are very sensitive and prone to failing, so at best we can use each one around three times, then we have to throw it away. But we have to do it. It’s not a problem. As long as floppy disks are still available, we’re happy with it.”

Fewer than 20 Boeing 747-200s remain in service worldwide, and only in cargo or military configurations. The US Air Force operates six, two of them as Air Force One. It’s unclear whether they still use floppy disks, too, but the US military employed the even-older 8-inch floppy disks in its nuclear arsenal until 2019.

Link to the rest at Ars Technica

3 Ways Grammarly Improves Your Emails

From The Grammarly Blog:

Writing clear and professional emails can improve how competent you appear in the eyes of your colleagues, clients, or managers. However, this means emails can often be a source of anxiety and insecurity, especially because you can’t clarify a mistaken word or sentiment, read the recipient’s reaction in real time, or rework the email after you hit send.

Fortunately, Grammarly can help you write your work emails with confidence. Eliminate typos, rewrite confusing sentences, and land the tone of your message so you never have to second-guess yourself once you’ve hit send.

Knock out grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes

Have you ever sent an email only to immediately realize that you included a typo, used incorrect grammar, or forgot to add crucial punctuation? These types of mistakes happen to every professional as we try to keep up with a constant stream of emails. We often find ourselves quickly typing a response as we multitask or squeezing in a reply during the brief breaks in between meetings. In both scenarios, being distracted and making mistakes is easy.

Punctuation, grammar, and spelling mistakes can prevent our emails from appearing polished and professional. Fortunately, Grammarly flags and helps you fix these types of mistakes in just a few seconds.

. . . .

Smooth your syntax with full-sentence rewrites

One of the main challenges of writing emails at work is finding the right balance between being concise and adequately conveying your message. Long, complicated sentences can be confusing or may prompt people to skip or skim your email. This, in turn, can lead to misunderstandings and time-consuming back-and-forths with colleagues or clients.

Of course, writing clearly isn’t as simple as it sounds. While something might make sense in our head, it doesn’t always come across the same way when we write it down. And it’s even more challenging to convey our ideas in words when we’re writing in a hurry. So we often end up with overly wordy or run-on sentences in our emails, but we don’t have the time or patience to rework them.

With Grammarly Premium, you can feel confident that your message is clear. Grammarly Premium not only identifies sentences that may be too wordy or confusing but also helps you streamline your editing process by offering full-sentence rewrites that help make your point easy to understand.

. . . .

Strike the right tone

You may have found yourself rereading an important email to ensure your tone is coming across how you intended it to. The tone of your writing influences how people perceive your message and can impact your relationship with colleagues and clients. However, tone is difficult in written communication because you can’t use your voice or facial expressions to signal how you intend to come across. Without this context, your recipient may misinterpret your tone.

Grammarly Premium’s tone rewrite suggestions can identify sentences where your tone may be misunderstood and offer rewrites to help you sound more personable, confident, or positive.

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

PG has been a big fan of Grammarly for a long time. One of the ways he helps Mrs. PG with her books is to run the final draft through Grammarly.

However, he enabled Grammarly for Chrome for TPV to check on his posts, then disabled it because it was a bit too nitpicky and slowed him down too much.

He’s just turned Grammarly back for TPV on for another trial.

One interesting discovery he made after he revived Grammarly is that the program had several suggestions for the portion of the Grammarly blog post PG excerpted for this post.

Here’s a partial screen shot of Grammarly’s suggestions on PG’s computer for improving Grammarly’s own blog post:

Taking the Grammarly suggestions from top to bottom:

  1. real time should be real-time
  2. message so should be message, so
  3. mistakes should have a period after it
  4. “We often find ourselves quickly typing a response as we multitask or squeezing in a reply during the brief breaks in between meetings.” should be rewritten as “We often find ourselves quickly typing a response as we multitask or squeeze in a reply during brief breaks between meetings.”
  5. “In both scenarios, it’s easy to be distracted and to make mistakes.” should be rewritten to read, ” In both scenarios, being distracted and making mistakes is easy.”
  6. “Smooth your syntax with full-sentence rewrites” should have a period at the end.
  7. “sentences can be confusing or may prompt people to skip” should be rewritten as “can confuse or may prompt people to skip”.

PG suggests that this demonstrates that, while quite helpful in many cases, sometimes Grammarly puts a foot wrong. That said, PG will continue to be a regular user of Grammarly.

12 Atticus Templates For Easy Book Formatting

From The Book Designer:

If you are looking to write a book, you know how important it is to have a good writing and formatting tool.

Atticus is a writing tool that lets you create print and digital books all within one writing software. The Atticus templates are great for authors to simply fill in and then have a book ready to go.

If you’ve been looking for a tool to make your book writing even easier, in this article we’ll be going over what Atticus is, how much it costs, why you should use it, and take a look at the templates they offer.

Why Use Atticus Templates?

Atticus was built by authors, for authors. So that means they have your needs and concerns in mind for each and every book.

They made sure that it’s easy to use and won’t be in the way of your writing. You just need to focus on the creativity and let their software do the rest.

If you don’t use templates when it comes to publishing your book, you’re going to have a hard time getting the format to fit in the guidelines of some publishing companies.

That means your book could end up looking a little off on some reading devices or with the actual physical print version.

Templates save you from having to format and fix everything yourself, which can take countless hours to do and customize. If you are not proficient with technology, you might even have to hire someone to put it together. That is why templates are almost always worth it for book publishing.

What Atticus Offers

Since Atticus was built by authors, they know what you need.

Some of these examples include:

  • Being able to drag and drop chapters for easy switches
  • Book reading level
  • Word count
  • Goal tracking so you can make sure you’re hitting your word counts

You can also choose to simply use their formatting editors or templates if you prefer to do your writing in other software.

Atticus can import books from a wide variety of sources, including Scrivener, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs, just to name a few.

After you import your book, you have thousands of ways to customize the overall look and feel of your book, so you can make the exact book you’ve always wanted to publish. We’ll cover that more down below when we get to the templates.

Before you hit publish, you will also be able to see what your book looks like on different devices, so you won’t have any errors in your final draft.

. . . .

Upload your book or start from scratch

The first thing you’ll want to do once you buy Atticus and login is to either upload your book or start one from scratch.

If you start one from scratch, you will be able to pick from a variety of templates.

. . . .

Some examples:

  • Delphini could be for a romance novel
  • Aether could be for a science fiction book
  • Scarlett could be for a memoir
  • Bonkers Books could be for a YA novel

For almost any kind of book you want to write, there is an Atticus template ready for you to use and put together.

There is no huge learning curve to get you started on the path to writing your book. All you need to do is follow a few simple prompts and you are on your way.

. . . .

See how it looks on different devices

Due to how good the Atticus template formatting software is, you can quickly see how your book will look across various devices.

You can see how it looks on a Kindle, eBook, as a printed copy, and more.

This can also help you catch any formatting errors you need to fix so it looks good on every platform.

Export your book and publish it

The Atticus templates work with a ton of markets and platforms.

. . . .

How Much Does Atticus Cost?

As of the time of writing this article, Atticus has a one-time fee of $147 which covers both eBooks and printed book templates and formatting.

Depending on your budget, that might sound expensive, but there are not too many tools out there that can format your book so quickly and easily.

Not to mention, many authors have to hire people to format their books for them, which can often cost way more than $147.

It also helps that it’s not a subscription service. Some platforms charge a monthly fee and if you stop paying it, you can lose access to your work. Instead, you pay once and you own it forever. You also receive every future update, template, or added on features for free.

If you are not thrilled, they do offer a 30-day refund if you decide it’s not the right software for you.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

In a world where every little app designer wants to charge you a monthly or annual subscription fee, a one-time fee of $147 sounds pretty reasonable to PG. He’s going to take a look at Atticus for Mrs. PG’s upcoming book.

His present book formatting approach creates nicely-formatted books, but the range of different looks/themes is more limited than PG would prefer.

Mrs. PG is headed down the home stretch with her next book, so PG will give Atticus a try and likely report on his experience.

The Amazing Ways Google And Grammarly Use Artificial Intelligence To Improve Your Writing

From Forbes (in 2018):

While online editing tools such as Grammarly and grammar suggestions from Google Docs aren’t foolproof, the artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that power them are successfully improving the way many of us write. In the process, it saved millions of embarrassing errors caused by carelessness (there vs. they’re) and, of course, caught mistakes that involved more challenging grammar rules. Whether we write an email, a text or something more formal, even professionals use these editing tools to detect errors before they mistakenly get broadcast. To really appreciate the technology that makes these editing tools possible, let’s take a look at these services and the impressive ways they improve our writing.

Grammarly: The Leader of the Pack

Since its 2009 inception, cloud-based Grammarly has grown to more than 15 million daily active users and is often one of the top-ranked grammar checkers. Users can download the Grammarly Keyboard for their mobile devices, add an extension to Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, use the Grammarly Desktop App or download a plug-in for Microsoft Office so the algorithm can spell and grammar check on Word, social media and Outlook. Grammarly switched from a subscription-only model to a freemium model in 2015 to provide more access to users.

How does it work? Just like with other machine learning algorithms, Grammarly’s artificial intelligence system was originally provided with a lot of high-quality training data to teach the algorithm by showing it examples of what proper grammar looks like. This text corpus—a huge compilation human researchers organized and labeled so the AI could understand it—showed, as an example, not only proper uses of punctuation, grammar and spelling, but incorrect applications so the machine could learn the difference. In addition, Grammarly’s system uses natural language processing to analyze every nuance of language down to the character level and all the way up to words and full paragraphs of text.

The feedback the system gets through humans when they ignore a proposed suggestion helps the system get smarter and provides the human linguists working with the input of the machine on how to make the system better. The more text it is exposed to, the better it can make appropriate suggestions. That’s one of the reasons the company switched in 2010 to a consumer service from targeting enterprise customers so it would have access to a larger data set and a more significant opportunity.

In 2017, investors General Catalyst, IVP and Spark Capital committed $110 million to the already profitable company to help it further enhance its capabilities. Although the company has made great strides in improving grammar, grammatically correct writing doesn’t necessarily mean it is compelling or concise. So, although the company has a history of adding new checks such as to identify vagueness or plagiarism to improve your writing, expect this new infusion of funds to allow the company to add staff in an effort to continue improvements to its algorithm and the editing it can do. It has adequately tackled the basic mechanics of writing from spelling, grammar, and sentence structure as well as being able to help with clarity and readability of text. The next frontier is to provide context-specific suggestions.

Grammar Suggestions: Google Docs’ AI Grammar Checker

Grammarly may have recently introduced an extension of their own to work with Google Docs, but Google wants to get their own skin in the game with its grammar suggestions product. Google is using machine translation, the same tech they use to translate from one language to another (and one it has said approached human levels of accuracy), to power its editing tool. Instead of language to language, it translates poorly written text into grammatically correct text. If the system identifies a grammar issue, it will highlight it similar to how the spell check functionality works, so you have a chance to review possible grammar errors before hitting “send” or “publish.” 

Link to the rest at Forbes – in 2018

25 Best AI Writing Software For 2023 (Best Picks)

From Demand Sate:

Are you looking for the best AI Writing Software available on the internet? Well, you’re at the right place to get the answer to this question.

Creating unique content has become more complex than ever in this digital era. The competition is increasing day by day, and it has become really tidy to find the time to write unique content. That’s where AI writing software comes in. The best part about using these tools is that they can quickly reduce your stress and make it really easy for you to write content.

It can boost your production time and make your writing error-free. But it is tough to choose one tool among all these AI Writing tools available on the internet. That’s why I curated a handpicked list of the seven best AI Writing Software for you. 

. . . .

Here is our top 5 recommended AI Writing Software:

  1. Jasper – The Best AI Writing Software
  2. Grammarly – Best For Proofreading & Grammar Checking
  3. CopySmith – Best AI Writer For E-Commerce
  4. INK For All – Best For SEO
  5. LongShot AI – Best AI Writer For Creating Long-Form Content

If you still haven’t been able to decide from our top 5 list then don’t worry. We have curated a list of the 21 best AI Writing software to help you decide. We have included their overview, key features, and pricing. We have also mentioned if these tools offer a free trial or not. So without further ado let’s dive into the list.

1. Jasper (Formerly Known As Jarvis)

Jasper Ai is a fantastic AI-powered writing assistant because it completely changes your text into a unique version. It allows you to write blog posts, articles, and poems, and it will also generate content automatically to match your writing style & tone. The Jasper command gives you the power to write content automatically. You just need to begin the sentence, and Jasper will finish it for you.

. . . .

This is an automated process that ensures proper grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. You can also create images with your words on Jasper. It completely turns your word into images, and they won’t be random images. These images will contain the text you’ve written with a proper background. They have announced to change the name of the AI from Jarvis to Jasper on the 24th Of January 2022 because of a conflict with Disney (Marvel). We — DemandSage highly recommend Jasper for content curation.

. . . .

2. Grammarly

Grammarly is one of the best AI writing software in my experience because it improves your writing skill on the go. It shows grammatical errors whenever you’re writing a piece of content. Grammarly can check your content in multiple languages, such as UK, US, and Australian English.

You can also check the plagiarism of your content on Grammarly. It also gives you suggestions whenever you’re writing to improve the quality of your content. It also comes with a Chrome extension which allows you to check any piece of content you write online. These many checks make it really easy to write content without having to worry about wrong grammar or wrong sentences.

Key Features:

  • Multi-Language Support
  • Secure Browser Add-On
  • Complete AI-Based Checking
  • Contextual Error, Grammar, and Spelling Checking
  • Integrate With All The Business Apps
  • Tone and Style Checker
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • Readability Metrics
  • Content Quality Score
  • Use It On Mobile And Desktop

Link to the rest at Demand Sage

PG had never thought about Grammarly as an AI program until relatively recently. Perhaps it’s because Grammarly was founded in 2009, long before AI was a buzzword and PG has been a fan and user for a very long time.

As he reviews the changes in Grammarly over time, it was definitely not of AI caliber at first, but he has definitely seen a lot of ongoing work to make the program much more intelligent than other grammar-checking programs are.

He has used ProWritingAid on occasion in the past and found it to be quite good at pure grammar-checking. When he first tried it, the program seemed faster than Grammarly was at the time.

However, for the past several years, he’s moved back to Grammarly because of its increasing coverage of a lot of writing errors or problems that are not strictly about grammar.

PG would be interested in comments from visitors to TPV about their experience with this category of software. And, perhaps, their opinions about whether Grammarly qualifies as Artificial Intelligence or not.

The Idioms:

An idiom is a group of words, a saying, or a phrase with a symbolic rather than literal meaning that is accepted in common usage. It is a form of artistic expression characteristic of a movement, period, individual, medium, or instrument.

Its symbolic sense differs from the definition or literal meaning of the words that make it. Idioms convey a figurative meaning that is difficult to understand solely by interpreting the words literally. For instance, “beyond the pale” means something is “over the line” or improper. You can only know that by being able to infer the phrase’s meaning based on context or if someone explains it to you.

Many different idioms exist, and people use them commonly in all languages. Translating them into other languages can be challenging because some meanings may be lost. Still, equivalents that fill in the gaps between languages exist. The English language has an unlimited number of idiomatic expressions.

Idiomatic expressions are the building blocks of civilization and language. They make the language evolve. The great intensity of idioms makes a language dynamic and interesting. Phrases bring a remarkable illustration to daily speech and offer compelling insights into the use of languages, words, and the speaker’s thought process. There is a sense of fun and mystery about idioms.

So why are idiomatic expressions difficult?
They are difficult because their meanings are not always easy to understand. This is particularly the case for non-native speakers of the language in question, since their intentions are typically symbolic. Due to this characteristic, English learners find them strange and hard to understand.


This is a list of the top ten most common English phrases and idioms used in the United States. We have provided their meaning and examples for teachers and students. Students also explain the meaning of idiomatic expressions in competitive exams. An idiom’s popularity can differ from one region to the other. However, this list is generally popular worldwide.

a hot potato

Meaning: a controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with.

Example: The subject of bullying and fighting in my school is a hot potato.

piece of cake

Meaning: something that is easy to do

Example: Learning English is a piece of cake as long as you do it with our website. 

once in a blue moon

Meaning: very rarely

Example: I go to visit my grandfather only once in a blue moon; he lives in a remote farm house.

a bed of roses

Meaning: easy option

Example: Taking care of my younger sister is no bed of roses; she is very silly. 

raining cats and dogs

Meaning: raining very heavily

Example: I wanted to go to play outside, but it was raining cats and dogs yesterday. 

when pigs fly

Meaning: something that will never happen or is impossible.

Example: William will keep quiet only when pigs fly.

. . .

butter up


  • to flatter someone so as to get something in return from them
  • to say nice things excessively to someone just so they can do you a favour
  • to charm someone with praise or compliments because you need something from them

Example Sentences

  1. Mary’s nice compliments about her not so nice boss made it clear that she was just trying to butter him up.
  2. Buttering up people is a good way to get them to help you when you need it.
  3. Alice is good at buttering up her superiors and that’s how she mostly gets promoted.
  4. I am not so good at buttering up people just because I can be quite direct and blunt.
  5. John’s offhand remarks about his boss showed that his previous compliments only served to butter his boss up.
  6. To butter up people is really not the best way to get them to be kind to you


This phrase derives directly from the act of spreading butter on bread or any other edible substance to make it soft and tastier so that the person eating it gets more satisfaction from it. So this came to represent spreading nice things about someone just so you could get something in return.Source: theidioms.com

Link to the rest at The Idioms

The College Essay Is Dead

From The Atlantic:

Suppose you are a professor of pedagogy, and you assign an essay on learning styles. A student hands in an essay with the following opening paragraph:

The construct of “learning styles” is problematic because it fails to account for the processes through which learning styles are shaped. Some students might develop a particular learning style because they have had particular experiences. Others might develop a particular learning style by trying to accommodate to a learning environment that was not well suited to their learning needs. Ultimately, we need to understand the interactions among learning styles and environmental and personal factors, and how these shape how we learn and the kinds of learning we experience.

Pass or fail? A- or B+? And how would your grade change if you knew a human student hadn’t written it at all? Because Mike Sharples, a professor in the U.K., used GPT-3, a large language model from OpenAI that automatically generates text from a prompt, to write it. (The whole essay, which Sharples considered graduate-level, is available, complete with references, here.) Personally, I lean toward a B+. The passage reads like filler, but so do most student essays.

Sharples’s intent was to urge educators to “rethink teaching and assessment” in light of the technology, which he said “could become a gift for student cheats, or a powerful teaching assistant, or a tool for creativity.” Essay generation is neither theoretical nor futuristic at this point. In May, a student in New Zealand confessed to using AI to write their papers, justifying it as a tool like Grammarly or spell-check: ​​“I have the knowledge, I have the lived experience, I’m a good student, I go to all the tutorials and I go to all the lectures and I read everything we have to read but I kind of felt I was being penalised because I don’t write eloquently and I didn’t feel that was right,” they told a student paper in Christchurch. They don’t feel like they’re cheating, because the student guidelines at their university state only that you’re not allowed to get somebody else to do your work for you. GPT-3 isn’t “somebody else”—it’s a program.

The world of generative AI is progressing furiously. Last week, OpenAI released an advanced chatbot named ChatGPT that has spawned a new wave of marveling and hand-wringing, plus an upgrade to GPT-3 that allows for complex rhyming poetry; Google previewed new applications last month that will allow people to describe concepts in text and see them rendered as images; and the creative-AI firm Jasper received a $1.5 billion valuation in October. It still takes a little initiative for a kid to find a text generator, but not for long.

The essay, in particular the undergraduate essay, has been the center of humanistic pedagogy for generations. It is the way we teach children how to research, think, and write. That entire tradition is about to be disrupted from the ground up. Kevin Bryan, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, tweeted in astonishment about OpenAI’s new chatbot last week: “You can no longer give take-home exams/homework … Even on specific questions that involve combining knowledge across domains, the OpenAI chat is frankly better than the average MBA at this point. It is frankly amazing.” Neither the engineers building the linguistic tech nor the educators who will encounter the resulting language are prepared for the fallout.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic

The 12 Best Writing Organization Tools of the Year

From The Book Designer:

Writing a book is one of the most meaningful projects you can dedicate your time to. Your book has the potential to entertain and inform people far into the future. It also sets an amazing example for those around you, showing them it’s possible to dream of being an author and then realize that goal. Crafting a full book is difficult and requires organization and discipline for any writer, but for self-published authors, even greater levels are required.

Why? As a self-published author, you’re responsible for many more moving pieces than authors with a traditional publishing deal. The trade-off is far more creative freedom and a bigger slice of any sales revenue. But until you’ve released a book independently, you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work required in different areas.

Thankfully, a wide range of apps and other solutions exist to help keep your writing projects, not to mention your writing itself, organized and on track. From the simplest planning and tracking tools through to powerhouse writing software that does it all, there’s an option that’s suited to your needs.

Read on to discover our guide to the best writing organization tools to help you succeed.

1 – Your phone’s notes app (or a paper notebook)
Depending on which writer you ask, you might hear of a love or hate relationship with their phone. Some writers love the connectivity, information, and ease smartphones offer. Others have mixed feelings, seeing both the benefits and the downsides. As for writers who detest them, check out Cell by Stephen King!

If you carry a smartphone, consider using your notes app to organize your writing. You can use it to capture quick ideas and plans related to your writing that strike no matter where you happen to be. Most notes apps also allow for checklists, doodles, voice recordings, and other features.

For those of you who fall into the Stephen King camp regarding smartphones, carrying a small notebook is a good option.

Sometimes, the simplest ways of organizing your writing are the best. Try using your notes app for this purpose and see if you agree.

2 – Writer’s Companion
Perhaps you like the idea of using a simple tool like a notes app on your phone, but worry you won’t have all the features and functionality you need. You might prefer something similar but more directly suited to writers.

If that’s the case, check out Writer’s Companion. It’s an app for both iPhone and Android devices that allows you to plan books and build worlds. Writer’s Companion is available as a free edition or as a paid product with greater functionality.

The free version of Writer’s Companion allows you to work on up to 4 projects at a time and also provides limited worldbuilding functionality. If you opt for the premium edition you get unlimited projects, advanced wordbuilding capabilities, straightforward backups of your work, and the ability to use Writer’s Companion in dark mode.

Writer’s Companion is a great middle-ground between the simplicity of a notes app and a fully-featured planning tool. It’s affordable and worth exploring if you like organizing your writing from your phone.

3 – Todoist
While Todoist isn’t an app specifically created for writers, it is packed with functionality that will help you keep your writing projects on track. You can use Todoist by logging in through a web browser or downloading a mobile app. The service syncs between the two options so you can work wherever you happen to be.

Todoist allows you to create tasks and assign them to different prioritization levels, so you don’t end up wasting too much time on less important parts of your writing project. You can track your progress and visualize your performance. If you’re independently publishing a book you’ll probably collaborate with designers and book layout specialists. You can easily work with collaborators within Todoist. The app also allows you to easily convert emails into tasks so important action items don’t get lost in your inbox.

Unlike some other apps, Todoist helps organize more than writing, so it’s a great solution if you want a single tool to organize everything that goes along with a project.

4 – Trello
Trello is one of the easiest to use and most intuitive writing organization apps available. It’s based around a simple drag and drop interface that allows you to create boards and cards before dragging and dropping them as needed. If you’re familiar with the Kanban method of organization, you’ll feel at home in Trello.

Trello is available as a mobile app or as a service to log into via your web browser. Your Trello account syncs data between devices, allowing you to work seamlessly wherever you are. Although the card system used by Trello is very simple, it’s also powerful, allowing you to create tasks and assign them to different users, set due dates, and automate functions easily without any need for code.

You can also integrate Trello with many of the tools you already use, meaning this is a great choice of organization app to enhance your existing ways of planning your writing.

5 – Scrivener
Scrivener has a lot to offer in terms of organizing your writing effectively but does far more besides just that. Investing in Scrivener purely for planning purposes would not be a good choice, but if you would benefit from everything it’s capable of, it could make sense as your primary organization tool.

You can use Scrivener for almost anything imaginable related to writing, editing, and publishing. Its organizational features include corkboards to visually plan your books, information and notes related to your writing project, and stats and progress metrics.

Scrivener offers a free trial so you can get hands-on and see if it’s a good fit for your needs before making a final investment.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

ProWritingAid vs. Grammarly

From Crunchhype:

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly: When it comes to English grammar, there are two Big Players that everyone knows of: the Grammarly and ProWritingAid. but you are wondering which one to choose so here we write a detail article which will help you to choose the best one for you so Let’s start

What is Grammarly?
Grammarly is a tool that checks for grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation.it gives you comprehensive feedback on your writing. You can use this tool to proofread and edit articles, blog posts, emails, etc.

Grammarly also detects all types of mistakes, including sentence structure issues and misused words. It also gives you suggestions on style changes, punctuation, spelling, and grammar all are in real-time. The free version covers the basics like identifying grammar and spelling mistakes whereas the Premium version offers a lot more functionality, it detects plagiarism in your content, suggests word choice, or adds fluency to it.

Features of Grammarly

  • Spelling and Word Suggestion: Grammarly detects basic to advance grammatical errors and also help you why this is an error and suggest to you how you can improve it
  • Create a Personal Dictionary: The Grammarly app allows you to add words to your personal dictionary so that the same mistake isn’t highlighted every time you run Grammarly.
  • Different English Style: Check to spell for American, British, Canadian, and Australian English.
  • Plagiarism: This feature helps you detect if a text has been plagiarized by comparing it with over eight billion web pages.
  • Wordiness: This tool will help you check your writing for long and hard-to-read sentences. It also shows you how to shorten sentences so that they are more concise.
  • Passive Voice: The program also notifies users when passive voice is used too frequently in a document.
  • Punctuations: This feature flags all incorrect and missing punctuation.
  • Repetition: The tool provides recommendations for replacing the repeated word.
  • Proposition: Grammarly identifies misplaced and confused prepositions.
  • Plugins: It offers Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, and Google Chrome plugins.

What is ProWritingAid?

ProWritingAid is a style and grammar checker for content creators and writers. It helps to optimize word choice, punctuation errors, and common grammar mistakes, providing detailed reports to help you improve your writing. 

ProWritingAid can be used as an add-on to WordPress, Gmail, and Google Docs. The software also offers helpful articles, videos, quizzes, and explanations to help improve your writing.

Features of ProWriting Aid

Here are some key features of ProWriting Aid:

  • Grammar checker and spell checker: This tool helps you to find all grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Find repeated words:  The tool also allows you to search for repeated words and phrases in your content.
  • Context-sensitive style suggestions:  You can find the exact style of writing you intend and suggest if it flows well in your writing.
  • Check the readability of your content: Pro Writing Aid helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your article by pointing out difficult sentences and paragraphs.
  • Sentence Length: It also indicates the length of your sentences.
  • Check Grammatical error: It also checks your work for any grammatical errors or typos, as well.
  • Overused words: As a writer, you might find yourself using the same word repeatedly. ProWritingAid’s overused words checker helps you avoid this lazy writing mistake.
  • Consistency: Check your work for inconsistent usage of open and closed quotation marks.
  • Echoes: Check your writing for uniformly repetitive words and phrases.

Link to the rest at Crunchhype

How I Use Scrivener For Fiction And Non-Fiction

PG notes that the OP is taken from the transcript of the audio portion of a video. For those who have never given a presentation which is later transcribed, it’s always a humbling experience to see the sorts of filler words you use and other things you say without thinking. Conversational information dispersal and a formal prepared speech are two entirely different ways of speaking.

Here’s a link to the Scrivener website where you can download a free trial version.

From The Creative Penn:

I have now written over 30 books with Scrivener over more than a decade. I did use MS Word for some of my early books back in 2008/2009. But with my first novel, I had such difficulty using Word, that I needed to find a solution. Once someone told me about Scrivener, I started to use it and I have used it for every single book since — fiction and nonfiction. In this tutorial, I’m going to talk a bit about how I use it.

There is so much functionality in Scrivener, so I’m only going to touch on what I use, which is definitely not everything, but it certainly gets me by.

. . . .

You can use Template Projects or a Blank Project

So for fiction, there are a couple examples, for nonfiction, there are even more. So let’s go into the fiction first.

So if you like a lot of help with writing a document, then [Scrivener] can really be useful.

For example, if you go into characters and use the little plus button , it will give you, a character sketch, and then you can fill it in. And if you like filling in all this type of thing, you can do that.

I’m a discovery writer . . . so I don’t use this, but this can be really useful if you enjoy having the different help things there.

. . . .

You can write your scenes and then gather them together in chapters. You can do what you like there. Let’s just look at a nonfiction template before I get into showing you some of my own.

. . . .

Drag and drop — so you can write out of order

Now, one of the things I love about Scrivener is the ability to drag and drop.

So whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, you can essentially move them around. So you just click on it and drag it. And what that enables is for you to write out of order. So again, whether that’s fiction or non-fiction, you can just move things around.

. . . .

Keep your research and notes within the project, but not compiled into the book

The main thing to remember with the document is that this folder contains the book. And then anything you put into [00:05:00] research, for example, is not included when you compile the book.

And again, you can type your research in, you can pull in notes.

. . . .

The Inspector includes synopsis, notes, snapshots, and more

The other important thing is the Inspector.

. . . .

So, first of all, on the inspector tab, you can do an overview, a synopsis. [00:06:00] So here William de Tracy, and the Knights. This book is set in the present, but the prologue is set in 1183. So essentially this is the synopsis overview.

And the reason why this is useful, if you are a plotter, is if you click on the manuscript at the top, you can see an overview of the whole book. And so this is where you can move things around. You can write different things.

So you it’s like the digital corkboard. Some people use a physical corkboard. Some people use a digital one. So that’s super useful.

Link to the rest at The Creative Penn

PG was first introduced to Scrivener a long time ago and spent a lot of time playing with it. For PG’s needs at the time, Scrivener wasn’t a good fit, but he liked the way the program was constructed and the people who were running the company .

He may download the trial program again to see how it’s evolved into the present day.

Content Analysis Tools

As mentioned previously, PG has spent some time examining content analysis tools available online. In some cases, they’re free and others require a subscription if you want to use them for longer pieces of content.

Here’s a sample text PG has chosen for analysis:

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty dirty wet hole filled with the end of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole and that means “comfort.”

The first tool is what the creator describes as a “Sentiment Analysis“. Here is the result of the analysis:

This document is: positive (+0.50)  Magnitude: 1.19

Subjectivity: subjective

negative neutral positive

. . . .

Detected ThemesMagnitudeSentiment Score
hobbit hole0.61+0.537
Core sentencesMagnitudeSentiment Score
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.0.380.156
Not a nasty dirty wet hole filled with the end of worms and an oozy smell nor yet a dry bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole and that means “comfort.0.81+0.441

Parts of the speech

it was a hobbit holeSubject: it
Action: was
Object: a hobbit hole (+0.537)

Auto categories [IAB QAG taxonomy]

Pets/ Pet Supplies0.365
Home & Garden0.189

No, PG does not understand exactly how the computerized analysis was conducted. He expects it might do better with a longer text.

Link to the rest at Text2Data.com

Next, you can make a Word Cloud to help you visualize the various words of the hobbit passage. The following is from Lexos:

And, also from Lexos, additional data about the language:

Documents Number of character n-grams occurring onceTotal number of character n-gramsVocabulary DensityDistinct number of character n-grams
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit112450.12731

And since content creation is never far from our minds (isn’t everybody a content creator these days?), there’s an online tool to allow you to get more mileage from your content.

Paraphrase-Online is that tool. You can take something you’ve already written on a topic, run it through the paraphrase generator and, voila, fresh content you can sell to someone else!

To refresh your recollection, here is the original language we’ve been working with:

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty dirty wet hole filled with the end of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole and that means “comfort.”

And here is your fresh hobbit content!

In a gap within the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a terrible grimy damp gap filled with the conclusion of worms and an slimy scent, nor however a dry, uncovered sandy gap with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole which implies “comfort.”

PG decided to try another text to paraphrase:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

And the paraphrase:

When within the Course of human occasions, it gets to be vital for one individuals to break down the political bands which have associated them with another, and to expect among the powers of the soil, the separate and break even with station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a not too bad regard to the opinions of mankind requires that they ought to pronounce the causes which induce them to the partition.

Since he was on a paraphrasing roll, he tried another:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

And another way of saying the same thing:

It could be a truth all around recognized, that a single man in ownership of a great fortune, must be in need of a spouse.

One last and longer opening paragraph:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

and the paraphrase:

It was the leading of times, it was the most noticeably awful of times, it was the age of shrewdness, it was the age of stupidity, it was the age of conviction, it was the age of distrust, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Haziness, it was the spring of trust, it was the winter of lose hope, we had everything some time recently us, we had nothing some time recently us, we were all going coordinate to Paradise, we were all going coordinate the other way — in short, the period was so distant just like the show period, that a few of its noisiest authorities demanded on its being gotten, for great or for fiendish, within the superlative degree of comparison as it were.

If you go to Paraphrase-Online.com, you may be able to reuse your own content.

Fear Thesaurus Entry: Agoraphobia

From Writers Helping Writers:

Debilitating fears are a problem for everyone, an unfortunate part of the human experience. Whether they’re a result of learned behavior as a child, are related to a mental illness, or stem from a past wounding event, these fears influence a character’s behaviors, habits, beliefs, and personality traits. The compulsion to avoid what they fear will drive characters away from certain people, events, and situations and hold them back in life.

In your story, this primary fear (or group of fears) will constantly challenge the goal the character is pursuing, tempting them to retreat, settle, and give up on what they want most. Because this fear must be addressed for them to achieve success, balance, and fulfillment, it plays a pivotal part in both character arc and the overall story.

. . . .

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes people to be afraid of the places or situations that could bring on a panic attack. Their fear of being unable to get help or escape during one of these attacks can make it difficult for them to navigate open spaces, elevators, crowds, concerts, church services, movie theaters, or any place where a panic attack might come on. In extreme cases, a character suffering from agoraphobia may reach the point where they’re uncomfortable leaving their home at all.

What It Looks Like
Frequent panic attacks or elevated anxiety in certain places
Consistently avoiding certain locations or situations
Making choices that enable the character to stay at home (working from home, having groceries delivered, etc.)
The character often declining social invitations to certain places (amusements parks, church services, weddings, etc.)
Only venturing outside with a companion
Clinging to the friends or family members who are supportive
Becoming isolated

Common Internal Struggles
Wanting to not be limited by a fear but it being too strong to ignore
Knowing the fear is irrational but being being compelled to give in to it
Feeling guilty for making excuses about not being able to attend certain events
The character feeling like they can’t trust their own mind or emotions
Feeling defective or broken
Becoming depressed
Slipping into despair—believing that things will never change or get better
Wanting to seek help but feeling too overwhelmed or incapable
Feeling misunderstood and alone, as if the character is alone in their suffering
Worrying about what others think

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

One Plotting Tool for All

From Writers in the Storm

Whether you’ve just finished a project or you’ve just started writing, facing the blank screen (page) is daunting. It can make even the best ideas shrivel in your head and freeze your fingers. Some believe that story structure is essential for success and advise all writers must plan their story in advance. Others believe spontaneity is crucial to creativity and advise that everyone should pants their story. What is a writer, especially a new writer, to do? Consider that both are correct. Story structure is important and spontaneity can be a boon to creativity. Neither are the only right answer. There are tools that can help all writers regardless of their preferred story development method. One plotting tool for all is the story sentence.

Where Do You Start?

You stare at the screen and think that the great idea you had is really a cliché, or it’s too slight to be the epic novel you envisioned, or that the idea is only a two-step plot. Hold on. It’s not that bad. All you need is one sentence. But before we begin that, we need a common understanding of what plot means.

What is Plot?

To paraphrase and meld together definitions by Dwight V. Swain, Donald Maass, and Jessica Page Morrell: 

Plot is a series of scenes where something changes. Each change builds intensity and tension and increases your reader’s sense of foreboding until there is a devastating fear that your focal character may not attain her goal. When the intensity reaches its maximum, there is a release of tension in a satisfying manner. 

It’s a mouthful, but all of those things are part of the word plot represents. What changes, how things change, how intense or tension-filled your story is comes from the situation, genre, and tropes you select to build your plot. Overwhelmed yet? There are a lot of pieces to plot and it can be overwhelming. So let’s pare it down to a bite-sized chunk—the story sentence.

What is The Story Sentence?

It is not a tagline. A tagline is a tease. That’s not what we want right now.

The sentence is closer to a log line. But it’s not that either. It isn’t for marketing. It isn’t for your readers to understand. 

It’s a plotting tool, a sentence meant to help you focus your story. Maybe you’re like I was. You’ve heard writers are supposed to boil their story down to one sentence but you can’t figure out how to do it.

I did not get it until I took Holly Lisle’s “How to Revise A Novel” course. Simply put, she advised that the sentence included a protagonist, an antagonist, a conflict, and a hook. She recommended the sentence should be no more than thirty words in length. With her more detailed class instructions, I finally understood. Since then, I’ve studied how others use the story sentence and eventually made it my own. 

The Parts of the Sentence

I break down the sentence into parts–

An [adjective] [focal character] needs [to do something] for [an important personal reason] but [an adjective] [obstacle] needs [something] which [verb of conflict or stakes].

This is both easier and harder than it looks. Those of you who are grammar nerds may find my next statement objectionable. Don’t worry about grammar when you construct the story sentence. This isn’t about making a well-constructed sentence. It’s about getting the essence of your story down.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

Can You Be Too Organized?

From Writer Unboxed:

To say that I am a pantser is not to say that I dislike organization, or that I don’t have an idea of where my story is going. I am a pantser in part because I have never found a tool that lets me effectively organize all the story elements—characters, locations, events, story arcs, and narrative scene sequence. In essence, I start writing by the seat of my pants when all my half-blown attempts at organizing the story fall short. Then I give up and just start getting the scenes down before they leave me.

I have tried many tools and strategies, including:

  • Excel spreadsheets – with separate worksheets for characters, scenes, timelines, and locations.
  • Post-it notes attached to large boards.
  • Scrivener’s corkboard and outline features.
  • Multiple ‘mindmap’ software programs (including Mindnode and Scapple).
  • A number of published guides and workbooks on how to organize a novel.
  • Various ‘timeline’ software programs.
  • A home grown Microsoft Access relational database.

Most of these tools tracked one or two narrative elements effectively, but then I had to track other elements using secondary organizational strategies. For example, a timeline app provided a clear temporal sequence, but tracking characters through the various events was difficult. When I decided to tell a story in non-chronological sequence, I was back to post-it notes in addition to the timeline app. Similarly, mindmap apps provided a good way to map scenes and relationships between them, but keeping the events in correct temporal sequence proved onerous.

. . . .

What am I trying to track that has defied all of these strategies? Basic story elements:

  • the chronological sequence of events (including backstory events)
  • relationships between events
  • relationships between characters
  • which characters are involved in specific events
  • locations of events and where the various characters are geographically during any specific event
  • narrative sequence (particularly if the story is not being told in chronological sequence).

These are narrative elements that all writers have to manage, but I never seemed to find a workable strategy until I heard about Aeon Timeline. This app, built for project management as well as writing projects, combines a timeline; a spreadsheet; a mindmap; a database of persons, places, and events; the relationships between them (who did what where); a subway diagram to visualize those relationships; and the ability to track themes and even story arcs. Each of the elements (persons, events, locations) can be color-coded. This is the first app that meets the majority of my organizational requirements within the same package. The feature that really won me over was ‘narrative view,’ which provides the ability to drag timeline events into a non-linear narrative scene sequence that can be viewed either as an outline or a series of ‘cards’.

As an added bonus, once everything is all neat and tidily organized, Aeon Timeline can sync with Scrivener or Ulysses to create a scene ‘list’ ready for you to fill in the story. For writers who don’t mind working on-line and can handle a complex application, Aeon Timeline provides a powerful tool.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

I Wrote Over 52,000 Words Last Month Thanks to an AI Writing Assistant

From Medium:

If you had asked me a couple of months ago, I would have told you I was already a pretty prolific writer. I felt I’d gotten pretty good at pumping out content for my multiple blogs and freelance clients considering I also worked a nine-to-five job. During a good month, I could write roughly 10–12 articles amounting to around 18,000–24,000 words.

Respectable enough, right?

But when it comes to writing for money, you always wish you could write faster. Because the adage, “time is money,” is never more true than it is for the freelancer or blogger; the faster you can create quality content, the more often you get paid.

Then, a little more than a month ago, one of the blogging Facebook groups I’m in had everyone talking about a tool called Jarvis AI.

Once I got past my confusion that they were not talking about Tony Stark’s digital personal assistant but a writing tool created by Conversion AI, I started researching what Jarvis could do. It wasn’t long before I decided to subscribe and test him out for myself.

And I was blown away.

In September, I wrote 31 articles for clients and 22 posts between all my blogs, totaling over 52,000 words for the month — more than double my usual output!

. . . .

What Jarvis Is, and How He Works

Jarvis is an AI writing assistant (an important distinction I will go into later on). He is designed to help businesses, content creators, and marketers write quickly and effectively using AI technology.

Jarvis has read about 10% of the internet, giving him an immeasurably vast database of information to pull from. But it’s important to understand he’s not “scraping the internet” when he generates words for you.

Instead, he looks at the context of what has been written so far to predict the next word in a sentence. His algorithm creates a shortlist of words most likely to come next and chooses one.

He is very good at identifying patterns in your writing and will continue in the tone of voice and style you have started. For example, if you create a bullet point list, he will continue making bullet points.

Since he’s generating words and not “scraping” them from anywhere, you won’t run into issues with plagiarism. I run every article through my Grammarly Pro’s plagiarism filter, and I never run into any problems.

Working with Jarvis

Jarvis is a fantastic tool, but he’s just that — a tool; he’s only as useful as his handler makes him. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand what he is and how he’s best utilized.

First and foremost, he is a writing assistant, which means that while he can help you write an article, your participation requires more than simply clicking the “Compose” button a few times while sipping your coffee.

Jarvis is also not an editor, researcher, or fact-checker.

. . . .

The best way to use Jarvis — at least for long-form content — is to write the article together. He needs you to step in and guide him by providing context, so he knows what you’re trying to do.

I usually start with a few bullet points covering the main talking points I want to cover and a working title.

From there, what ends up happening is a “back and forth” collaboration where he brings me his ideas, and I build off of them.

I usually have a rough draft in as little as 10–15 minutes. And while I still end up writing most of the article, Jarvis has eliminated all traces of writer’s block and gives me something solid to work with right from the get-go.

It’s like if a blank doc is a round lump of clay, then Jarvis is a sculptor that molds the clay into the approximate form you’re looking to create. From there, you — the master artist — refines its design and make it a masterpiece.

. . . .

Content Improver

If you have a paragraph that seems a little bland, you can paste it in here and let Jarvis come up with a more engaging iteration.

Explain It to a Child

If you write many technical articles and are trying to make them easier to read for the layman, this function is phenomenal at simplifying sentences with a lot of jargon.

Sentence Expander

Similar to the Content Improver, this feature makes short ideas longer and more interesting.

Link to the rest at Medium

The Sites I Recommend the Most to Writers

From Writers Helping Writers:

So, three things about me:

  1. I like to help (really, I’m a bit psycho about it – be warned)
  2. I like to build unique storytelling tools
  3. I like to share great resource finds with other writers

Online, I try to match people with the information they need. Sometimes people reach out through email or a Facebook page to see if I can help them solve a problem they’re having. Many writers tend to have similar struggles, and so I often end up recommending the same tools or sites again and again. I thought it might be fun to round up the resources I recommend the most.

#1: The Critique Circle

A lot of writers reach out because they’ve 1) written a book and need guidance on the next steps, 2) they’ve become frustrated because they can’t seem to sell their book and need to know if there’s something wrong with it, or 3), they need an editor for a manuscript. While it sounds like these writers may need different things, likely they don’t. All three could benefit from the same thing – unbiased feedback.

Critique Circle is an online community where you can submit your work for critique and offer feedback to others in turn. You’ll get a variety of critiques (six, ten, maybe more) from writers at different levels. Having six sets of eyes (or more) on your work means collectively you’ll get some good guidance on what to fix, and multiple critiques can help with spotting patterns. If several folks are all pointing out the same or similar issues, you know there’s a problem to fix.

You might be wondering why I would send someone who is submitting to agents and publishers to a critique group and not an editor, right? Well, it’s simple: many writers submit before they’re ready. (I sure did, back in the day.) And taking your book to an editor right off the bat is going to cost money, whereas the Critique Circle is free (they do have a paid plan, too). Starting with a free option is a good first step.

So, unless a person tells me they’ve extensively workshopped a book and have already used critique groups, I recommend starting at Critique Circle, even if a person just needs an unbiased opinion on whether a book is ready for submitting. Once the writer has learned what they can at the critique level, they can decide if they need to move to an editor, or focus on their query letter & targeting to achieve a better response rate.

#2: ProWritingAid

Another handy-dandy tool I suggest to writers all the time as they polish and tighten is ProWritingAid. It’s a brilliant tool with a free and paid version (and the cost is reasonable and offers great value). As I mentioned above, hiring a freelance editor can be costly, so the stronger you make your writing before seeking one out, the better. And if you are querying, or sending a synopsis and sample pages, you don’t want typos, grammar or weak writing to distract an agent or editor from your brilliant story premise.

. . . .

#4: Buffer

Ah, marketing, the necessary evil. We can write a book, and publish it, but if we don’t market it, chances are, no one will find it. So, we need to proactively think about our audience and how to reach them. I know you’re worried about coming across as car salesman-y, but here’s a secret – marketing isn’t about selling books. It’s about having a focus, being authentic, and building relationships. (You can read more about my FAR Marketing Method here.),

If we want to find our reading audience across the entire world, we should get online and embrace social media to some degree. Don’t worry, we don’t need to do it all, but we should do some, focusing on platforms where our ideal audience hangs out.

A big problem with social media is that it can steal a lot of time, so using tools in the right way can help us be more efficient. A tool I couldn’t live without is Buffer. It allows me to schedule content on all my social platforms, so I’m always sharing helpful articles and occasional items to help people discover how I can help them. Scheduling this content means I get time back to use my social media time to hang out and chit-chat on feeds and DMs, as being social is what it’s really about.

#5: Trello

Between writing, publishing, marketing, and running a business, well, writers juggle A LOT. Lists can be our friend, but having a way to visualize our action items and track important spreadsheets, links and sites in one place is really helpful. Becca and I use Trello, which allows us to create boards, lists, and cards for everything we do from our publication process for each book, to marketing objectives and goals, to brainstorming ideas for blog posts, books, and new tools for One Stop for Writers. Cards can be dragged from one column to the next, reordered, labelled, etc. It’s a brilliant way to map out a to-do list or process, or even brainstorm ideas for a new book. Did I mention Trello has a generous free version? 

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

PG used Buffer a long time ago and can’t remember why he stopped, so he’s going to try it again. The idea is that you can spend a single creative session putting together posts for Instagram, etc., etc., then schedule them over a period of time so new bits of marketing stuff is showing up on various people’s feeds throughout the day.

Absent scheduling, if you put everything up at 10:00 AM your time, then you’ll miss the people who check their feeds at breakfast and those who check them on the bus trip home and those who check them when the kids are finally in bed. The feeds on the big social media sites can move at warp speed. Yes, people can follow you, if they remember to do so, but showing up on feeds because you’ve scheduled them on a spread-out basis several times a day means you’re hitting more people than you are if all your tweets, posts, etc., show up at 9:00 pm every day. Oh, and don’t forget time-zones.

There are several tools/services in the OP that PG hasn’t tried, so he’s happy to have those visitors who have tried them to share their likes/dislikes, etc.

One additional point – PG has been on social media for long enough to have seen particular tools that start out very nicely end up being annoying because the venture capitalist that’s funding the company says they need to sell ads everywhere or something like that. It doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for articles that tell you who’s up and who’s down.

Hint: AOL Chat Rooms are no longer a thing.

56 Words That Are Actually Portmanteaus

From The Grammarly Blog:

You might not be familiar with the term portmanteau, but you likely use portmanteaus in your vocabulary and writing more than you realize.

Portmanteau meaning

A  portmanteau (pronounced port-MAN-toe) is a word made by blending at least two words. The new word combines both the sounds and meanings of the originals.

To form a portmanteau, usually the first segment of one word is attached to the final segment of another word. Some portmanteau words are blended in other ways, like combining the initial segments of both words.

Why is it called a portmanteau?

Author Lewis Carroll describes the idea of portmanteaus in his book Through the Looking-Glass:

“Well, ‘SLITHY’ means ‘lithe and slimy.’ ‘Lithe’ is the same as ‘active.’ You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

The word portmanteau itself is an appropriate embodiment of this word form, since portmanteau, which is French for porte (“to carry”) + manteau (“cloak”), describes a suitcase that opens in two halves. Portmanteaus “carry” both meanings of their word pairs.

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly: Which Grammar Checker is Better in (2022) ?

From CrunchHype:

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly:  When it comes to English grammar, there are two Big Players that everyone knows of: the Grammarly and ProWritingAid. but you are wondering which one to choose so here we write a detail article which will help you to choose the best one for you so Let’s start

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is a tool that checks for grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation.it gives you comprehensive feedback on your writing. You can use this tool to proofread and edit articles, blog posts, emails, etc.

Grammarly also detects all types of mistakes, including sentence structure issues and misused words. It also gives you suggestions on style changes, punctuation, spelling, and grammar all are in real-time. The free version covers the basics like identifying grammar and spelling mistakes

The Premium version offers a lot more functionality, it detects plagiarism in your content, suggests word choice, or adds fluency to it.

Features of Grammarly

  • Spelling and Word Suggestion: Grammarly detects basic to advance grammatical errors and also help you why this is an error and suggest to you how you can improve it
  • Create a Personal Dictionary: The Grammarly app allows you to add words to your personal dictionary so that the same mistake isn’t highlighted every time you run Grammarly.
  • Different English Style: Check to spell for American, British, Canadian, and Australian English.
  • Plagiarism: This feature helps you detect if a text has been plagiarized by comparing it with over eight billion web pages.
  • Wordiness: This tool will help you check your writing for long and hard-to-read sentences. It also shows you how to shorten sentences so that they are more concise.
  • Passive Voice: The program also notifies users when passive voice is used too frequently in a document.
  • Punctuations: This feature flags all incorrect and missing punctuation.
  • Repetition: The tool provides recommendations for replacing the repeated word.
  • Proposition: Grammarly identifies misplaced and confused prepositions.
  • Plugins: It offers Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, and Google Chrome plugins.

What is ProWritingAid?

ProWritingAid is a style and grammar checker for content creators and writers. It helps to optimize word choice, punctuation errors, and common grammar mistakes, providing detailed reports to help you improve your writing. 

ProWritingAid can be used as an add-on to WordPress, Gmail, and Google Docs. The software also offers helpful articles, videos, quizzes, and explanations to help improve your writing.

Features of ProWriting Aid

Here are some key features of ProWriting Aid:

  • Grammar checker and spell checker: This tool helps you to find all grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Find repeated words:  The tool also allows you to search for repeated words and phrases in your content.
  • Context-sensitive style suggestions:  You can find the exact style of writing you intend and suggest if it flows well in your writing.
  • Check the readability of your content: Pro Writing Aid helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your article by pointing out difficult sentences and paragraphs.
  • Sentence Length: It also indicates the length of your sentences.
  • Check Grammatical error: It also checks your work for any grammatical errors or typos, as well.
  • Overused words: As a writer, you might find yourself using the same word repeatedly. ProWritingAid’s overused words checker helps you avoid this lazy writing mistake.
  • Consistency: Check your work for inconsistent usage of open and closed quotation marks.
  • Echoes: Check your writing for uniformly repetitive words and phrases.

Difference between Grammarly and Pro-Writing Aid

Grammarly and ProWritingAid are well-known grammar-checking software. However, if you’re like most people who can’t decide which to use, here are some different points that may be helpful in your decision.

Grammarly vs ProWritingAid

  • Grammarly is a writing enhancement tool that offers suggestions for grammar, vocabulary, and syntax whereas ProWritingAid offers world-class grammar and style checking, as well as advanced reports to help you strengthen your writing.
  • Grammarly provides Android and IOS apps whereas ProWritingAid doesn’t have a mobile or IOS app.
  • Grammarly offers important suggestions about mistakes you’ve made whereas ProWritingAid  shows more suggestions than Grammarly but all recommendations are not accurate
  • Grammarly has a more friendly UI/UX whereas the ProWritingAid interface is not friendly as Grammarly.
  • Grammarly is an accurate grammar checker for non-fiction writing whereas ProWritingAid is an accurate grammar checker for fiction writers.
  • Grammarly finds grammar and punctuation mistakes, whereas ProWritingAid identifies run-on sentences and fragments.
  • Grammarly provides 24/7 support via submitting a ticket and sending emails. ProWritingAid’s support team is available via email, though the response time is approximately 48 hours.
  • Grammarly offers many features in its free plan, whereas ProWritingAid offers some basic features in the free plan.
  • Grammarly does not offer much feedback on big picture writing; ProWritingAid offers complete feedback on big picture writing.
  • Grammarly is a better option for accuracy, whereas ProWritingAid is better for handling fragmented sentences and dialogue. It can be quite useful for fiction writers.

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly: Pricing Difference

  • ProWritingAid comes with three pricing structures. The full-year cost of ProWritingAid is $79, while its lifetime plans cost $339. You also can opt for a monthly plan of $20.
  • Grammarly offers a Premium subscription for $30/month for a monthly plan  $20/month for quarterly and $12/month for an annual subscription.
  • The Business plan costs $12.50 per month for each member of your company.

ProWritingAid vs Grammarly – Pros and Cons

Grammarly Pros

  • It allows you to fix common mistakes like grammar and spelling.
  • Offers most features in the free plan
  • Allows you to edit a document without affecting the formatting.
  • Active and passive voice checker
  • Personal dictionary 
  • Plagiarism checker (paid version)
  • Proofread your writing and correct all punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors.
  • Allows you to make changes to a document without altering its formatting.
  • Helps users improve vocabulary
  • User-friendly interface
  • Browser extensions and MS word add-ons
  • Available on all major devices and platforms
  • Grammarly will also offer suggestions to improve your style.
  • Enhance the readability of your sentence
  • Free mobile apps 
  • Offers  free version

Grammarly Cons

  • Supports only English 
  • Customer support only via email
  • Limits to 150,000 words
  • Subscription plans can be a bit pricey 
  • Plagiarism checker is only available in a premium plan
  • Doesn’t offer a free trial
  • No refund policy
  • The free version is ideal for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes, but it does not correct advanced writing issues.
  • Some features are not available for Mac.

ProwritingAid Pros

  • It offers more than 20 different reports to help you improve your writing.
  • Less expensive than other grammar checkers.
  • This tool helps you strengthen your writing style as it offers big-picture feedback.
  • ProWritingAid has a life plan with no further payments required.
  • Compatible with Google Docs!
  • Prowritingaid works on both Windows and Mac.
  • They offer more integrations than most tools.

ProWritingAid Cons

  • Editing can be a little more time-consuming when you add larger passages of text.
  • ProWritingAid currently offers no mobile app for Android or iOS devices.
  • Plagiarism checker is only available in premium plans.
  • All recommendations are not accurate

Link to the rest at CrunchHype

Anyword – AI Copywriter

PG previously wrote a post about Rytr, an artificially intelligent copy creation program.

This post will be about Anyword, which styles itself as a program/service that offers “Data-driven copywriting for anyone.”

With Anyword, PG decided to try a different experimental approach than he did with Rytr.

He took the first three paragraphs from a site called Billy Penn that provides local news about Philadelphia. From the general style of the Billy Penn site, PG concluded that its writers had meaningful experience in writing short news stories (more detail about Billy Penn taken from the web site appears below).

PG took the same three Billy Penn paragraphs as a seed and ran them through Anyword. Anyword’s design made it easy to convert each of the three paragraphs into an Anyword generated ai paragraph covering the same topic.

If you don’t like the first paragraph Anyword produces, you can tell it to run the original text through its system a second time for a different version of the original. For his experiment, PG gave Anyword two tries at each of the three Billy Penn paragraphs and includes the one he liked the best below.

Anyword also offers to create a title and PG used that capability to create a title for the three Anyword paragraphs.

First, a bit more detail about Billy Penn:

About Billy Penn

Billy Penn at WHYY is a local news team that informs and entertains people living in Philadelphia, the greatest city in the world.

Our reader-powered nonprofit newsroom covers everything Philly, from breaking news to urban life to food and fun. Through original reporting, curation and (virtual) events, we help our community learn from and connect with one another. We are a proud partner in Resolve Philly’s Broke in Philly reporting collaborative.

Instead of your standard news site, we’re more like a friend who happens to be really knowledgeable about the city. Founded in 2014 as a startup, in 2019 we joined WHYY, the region’s NPR and PBS public media affiliate.

Time for the comparison.

Original First Three Paragraphs from BillyPen

The finale is near for longtime Center City staple Joseph Fox Bookshop, which is set to close at the end of January. Its shutdown aligns with a trend affecting many downtown retailers, but there’s a bright counterpoint: the recent rise of independent bookstores in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Founder Joseph Fox started selling out of the basement at 1724 Sansom St. in 1951, and the store remained at the address for nearly three-quarters of a century.

Specializing in books on architecture, along with literary fiction and nonfiction, art, poetry, and music, the shop is now run by Michael Fox, who took over after his father’s death in 1998. Also known for its children’s collection and considerable attention to small press and international works, Joseph Fox’s curtain call spread rapidly on social media, leading to laments from patrons and supporters.

Anyword AI Generated Headline and First Three Paragraphs

Headline – Joseph Fox Bookshop’s Last Stand

The Joseph Fox Bookshop, Center City’s oldest bookstore and the namesake of its eponymous owner, will be closing its doors at the end of January after nearly 80 years in business. The store’s closure comes as the latest in a string of department stores, clothing retailers, and other long-running downtown Philadelphia businesses to shutter in recent years.

Joseph Fox traces its roots to 1935, when it was founded by Robert L. Brenner as a downtown Philadelphia bookstore. (The business was named after author Joseph Conrad.) In 1976, Ken Wells took over and expanded JoeFox’s footprint in what was then known as Rittenhouse Square; he and wife Susan purchased ownership in 1993. The current store at 18th and Sansom streets has been open since 2001, but Wells plans to close it for good after Jan. 30 to focus on running his publishing company.

The number of independent bookstores in Philadelphia is once again on the rise, if only slightly. Earlier in 2017, Inkwell Books reopened its doors on South Street and The Ripped Bodice joined East Passyunk Avenue’s thriving retail scene. Before them, greats like Atomic Books were well-known fixtures on Philly’s literary scene for more than a decade; recently-closed Joe’s Book Shop served as a community center for Old City residents for more than 30 years. Independent bookstores have been instrumental in shaping Philadelphia neighborhoods—locally owned retailers that aren’t just businesses but local meeting places where relationships are formed and ideas are shared.

One of the things PG noted about the paragraphs Anyword generated is that the program pulled extra information about the topic, presumably from the web. and incorporated that information in its output. Anyword is a web-based app PG accessed through his browser so it lives online.

Anyword also allows the user to create a short, medium-length or long paragraph. In each of the three instances shown above, PG chose a long paragraph to see how Anyword would add to the original seed paragraph.

PG admits to being impressed with the Anyword results.

PG also admits to thinking a bit about the fact that he started the process with material that was subject to Billy Penn copyrights.

He believes that the substantial differences between the original Billy Penn copy and the Anyword results clearly make the Anyword output at least a derivative work, if not an equivalent to a human copyrighter writing about the same subject, but expressing her/his thoughts in a different manner for which the second copyrighter, using Anyword or a more mundane word processor, would have her/his own copyright. (PG is happy to hear alternative opinions in the comments to this post.)

As far as the plagiarism detection software used by some universities and colleges at least in the United States, PG has substantial doubts that either the software or a human reader would be able to detect the content of each of the seed paragraphs after the ai program was finished with them.

PG will be interested in comments from the visitors to TPV.

PG was able to do all this work under the “Start for Free” option on the Anyword website, so visitors to TPV should be able to perform their own experiments should they desire to do so.

I Wrote a Book with GPT-3 AI in 24 Hours — And Got It Published

From Medium:

In early 2021 I signed up for the GPT-3 beta program to see how good it is. A few days later I had co-authored Aum Golly — a book of AI poems on humanity. A few months later it was published. This is what it means for writers and publishers.

On January 30, 2021, I realized I was the weak link.

I had been working with GPT-3, the autoregressive language model from OpenAI for 2 hours. I was tired. My creative juices were running low. We had maybe 5 poems ready — out of the 60 or so poems we needed for the book.

I stared at the blinking cursor. GPT-3 was patiently waiting for my input.

To finish the project in the 24 hours I had given myself, I realized I had to change the way I wrote. I had to lean more into GPT-3. Let it do the heavy lifting.

Let go of my ego.

And that’s when things started to get a lot easier.

. . . .

AI for writers: the hype and the reality

Every hype cycle someone says: “This time it’s different.”

Aum Golly, co-authored by GPT-3 and myself, was published in Finland in April 2021. GPT-3 came up with the themes, the title, and the 55 poems themselves.

Having seen what GPT-3, the latest in generative language models, can do, I too am inclined to say: “This time it’s different.”

GPT-3 has been hailed as the newest generation of language models capable of generating text that you can’t tell from something written by a human. For the first 5 minutes of using GPT-3 I was hyped: it really was eerily good, most of the outputs really could have been written by a human.

But what struck me most was how versatile GPT-3 was: it could summarize text, come up with title variants, write introductory paragraphs based on a title… and it could write poetry.

Link to the rest at Medium

The Emotion Thesaurus

From Wordnerdopolis:

A writer’s ultimate goal is to connect.

… with the reader
… with a topic
… with a place, era or event.
Many writers accomplish this goal of connecting, through the lives of their characters. The words on the page are ink made flesh and suddenly, through the characters’ actions, quirks, mannerisms, dreams, appearances and dialogue readers can connect. As the writers of this book state in the introduction: “We read to connect with characters who provide entertainment and whole trials may add meaning to our own life journeys.” But creating this connection is no easy feat.

The single best took I have found to help me in this endeavor is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, created by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the two brainiacs behind the website Writers Helping Writers. This book (as well as the others in the series) have been my number one recommended writing book for the past five years. I bring them to every writing retreat and my students can tell you they show up in class at least once a semester.

Here’s how they work. The thesaurus lists an emotion and then lays out several ways a writer could clearly convey this emotion to their reader. In the original edition of the book, this meant listing physical manifestations of the emotion, internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses to the emotion, escalations of the emotion, signs the emotion is being suppressed in your character and finally a writer’s tip on how to best put this information to work in your writing. It’s pretty dang amazing.

. . . .

The thought that these authors would go back and improve a prior publication [by writing a second edition]… even though it was selling well enough on its own… even though they undoubtedly had other projects on their list… even though it was already fantastic, fills me with ADMIRATION for them. Knowing what I know now, I’ve often thought about doing this for one of my early books. I think, “I could make that so much better NOW”. But I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I admire these ladies for digging deep, for pushing themselves, for following through and for presenting an even more thorough resource.

. . . .

I adore the practical approach this book takes to the complex art of clearly conveying emotion. The introduction claims the book is a “how to cocktail” of writing emotion. I can tell you, proven by the magnets on my fridge, that anyone who can use a cocktail metaphor in their writing, has won my ADORATION for life.

. . . .

The 2nd Edition of the Emotional Thesaurus includes power verbs. For example, the emotion EAGERNESS lists these words.

Excerpt from, The Emotional Thesaurus, 2nd Edition
Excerpt from, The Emotional Thesaurus, 2nd Edition

. . . .

My absolute favorite parts of the Emotion Thesaurus are the Writer’s Tips. At last, the secrets are revealed! At the end of each emotion entry, the authors spell out how exactly you can put these characteristics and traits into action. No smoke and mirrors behind the writing craft techniques here. The transparency will leave you feeling EUPHORIC, at least, that was the result for me.

Link to the rest at Wordnerdopolis

Mrs. PG recently discovered this after receiving a recommendation from one of the PG offspring who just finished the first draft of her first book. PG has looked through parts of it. It seems like quite a nice reference work for authors.

Ginger VS Grammarly: Which Grammar Checker is Better in (2022) ?

From TechCrunch:

Ginger VS Grammarly: When it comes to grammar checkers, Ginger and Grammarly are two of the most popular choices on the market. This article aims to highlight the specifics of each one so that you can make a more informed decision about the one you’ll use.

What is Grammarly?

If you are a writer, you must have heard of  Grammarly before. Grammarly has over 10M users across the globe, it’s probably the most popular AI writing enhancement tool, without a doubt. That’s why there’s a high chance that you already know about Grammarly.

But today we are going to do a comparison between Ginger and Grammarly, So let’s define Grammarly here. Like Ginger, Grammarly is an AI writing assistant that checks for grammatical errors, spellings, and punctuation. The free version covers the basics like identifying grammar and spelling mistakes

While the Premium version offers a lot more functionality, it detects plagiarism in your content, suggests word choice, or adds fluency to it.

. . . .

What is Ginger

 Ginger is a writing enhancement tool that not only catches typos and grammatical mistakes but also suggests content improvements. As you type, it picks up on errors then shows you what’s wrong, and suggests a fix. It also provides you with synonyms and definitions of words and allows you to translate your text into dozens of languages.

Ginger Software: Features & Benefits

  • Ginger’s software helps you identify and correct common grammatical mistakes, such as consecutive nouns, or contextual spelling correction.
  • The sentence rephrasing feature can help you convey your meaning perfectly.
  • Ginger acts like a personal coach that helps you practice certain exercises based on your mistakes.
  • The dictionary feature helps users understand the meanings of words.

In addition, the program provides a text reader, so you can gauge your writing’s conversational tone

Ginger vs Grammarly

Grammarly and Ginger are two popular grammar checker software brands that help you to become a better writer. But if you’re undecided about which software to use, consider these differences:

  • Grammarly only supports the English language while Ginger supports 40+ languages.
  • Grammarly offers a wordiness feature while Ginger lacks a Wordiness feature.
  • Grammarly shows an accuracy score while Ginger lacks an accuracy score feature.
  • Grammarly has a plagiarism checker while ginger doesn’t have such a feature.
  • Grammarly can recognize an incorrect use of numbers while Ginger can’t recognize an incorrect use of numbers.
  • Grammarly and Ginger both have mobile apps.
  • Ginger and Grammarly offer monthly, quarterly, and annual plans.
  • Grammarly allows you to check uploaded documents. while Ginger doesn’t check uploaded documents.
  • Grammarly Offers a tone suggestion feature while Ginger doesn’t offer a tone suggestion feature.
  • Ginger helps to translate documents into 40+ languages while Grammarly doesn’t have a translation feature.
  • Ginger Offers text to speech features while Grammarly doesn’t have such features.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch

While many visitors to TPV are familiar with Grammarly, PG would appreciate comments from Ginger users about what’s particularly helpful to their writing.

Essential computer skills for writers

From Nathan Bransford:

In the past, nothing has quite brought out the snide emails and comments like suggesting that writers should do more than just write. (Remember when I said it’s helpful to be able to type fast? I sure do!). There’s a certain slice of writer who bristles at any suggestion that their beautiful art won’t carry the day on its own.

Look. If you want to just write, just write! You have no argument from me. It’s a wonderful and meaningful way to spend your time.

If you want to seek publication, on the other hand, it’s not enough to just write, and despite whatever gauzy nostalgia you’ve been bathing in, it’s never been enough to just write. Sorry. I don’t make the rules now, and I didn’t make them in the olden days either. As long as publishing has been a business (as in roughly 100% of the time), there have been business realities for authors too.

What I’m going to cover here isn’t that hard. You don’t need to be a TikTok star selling NFTs in the metaverse. Sure, you might need to learn a few skills or shake up some old habits, but what I’m talking about here isn’t going to upend your life.

. . . .

If you’re pursuing traditional publication, publishers want to know that you’re going to be a professional author who will do everything you can to help promote your book. If you are self-publishing, you have to find a way to give your book a boost to reach your first readers.

And these days: that means being at least somewhat online and being able to communicate in a way that’s conducive to being productive and part of a bigger team.

The pandemic has only accelerated pre-existing trends that were pushing us online. Publishing employees are now physically scattered and have finally ditched old school habits like sending out paper contracts and manuscripts.

. . . .

Understand email etiquette

Let’s start with your email address. It should be professional and shouldn’t be an address you share with your spouse. Whatever email program you use to send and receive emails shouldn’t make your missives look like gobbledygook to people who use more common email services like Gmail and Outlook.

Gmail is free and easy to use. So is Outlook. It’s (usually) not hard to move over your old emails so you keep receiving them at your new, more professional email address. You’re really not stuck forever with whatever email service you signed up for in 1998.

But apart from your email address, I also think it’s really important to understand email thread etiquette. You should not be in the habit of changing subject lines and sending emails to publishing professionals without the previous correspondence, particularly when it’s an ongoing conversation about a specific topic. You should try to get a sense of email tone, particularly when it comes to things like all caps, and make sure you’re not inadvertently coming across like you’re screaming at someone.

Be conversant in Microsoft Word

For better or worse, Microsoft Word is still the default game in town for sending and receiving word processing files. If you’re sending your manuscript to a publishing professional, chances are they’re going to want your file in a Microsoft Word (.docx) file. Not a PDF.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use Microsoft Word on a day-to-day basis. Other word processing programs like Apple Pages or Google Docs and fancy writing apps like Scrivener will export to .docx files. (I use Apple Pages as my day to day word processing program and export to Word).

Familiarize yourself with industry standard formatting, and utilize functions like page breaks. If you’re working with an editor, chances are they’re going to send your manuscript marked up with line edits and margin notes, so you’ll need to learn how to engage with these too.

Out of all the hoops you’re going to have to jump through in a publishing journey, formatting is one of the easiest. It pays to be professional here.

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

As many visitors to The Passive Voice know, these and the other items mentioned in the OP have been standard for online business communications since The Stone Age, aka DOS.

It certainly is a cultural and class thing, but if you’re going to deal with traditional publishing and its various elements, you need to talk the talk, etc.

The same thing goes if you’re going to self-publish your book. Spell check, Grammar check, ideally one or more beta readers who will pick up your dumb mistakes, etc.

95% of the work you do to get a book ready for submission to a publisher is exactly what you do for self-publishing. If you doubt your own skills for proofing, grammar checking, formatting, etc., you can pay someone to perform these tasks, but, it’s still a good idea to know something about how to do it yourself.

If you’re intelligent enough to write a decent book, you’re intelligent enough to do what is necessary to self-publish that book.

Here, Here! vs. Hear, Hear!

From The Grammarly Blog:

If you want to voice your agreement with someone during a debate (especially if you’re a member of the UK Parliament), you will shout “hear, hear.” But as long as you’re shouting, no one will notice you’re wrong if you shout “here, here” because the words are pronounced the same.

The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of parliamentarism. The current incarnation of the country’s Parliament, the Parliament of the United Kingdom, has a history that can be traced through its predecessors, the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of England, all the way to the early thirteenth century. As is often the case with places and institutions that have a long tradition, we can find relics of the past that persist in modern times. For instance, MPs are still offered snuff before they enter the Chamber. There is still some use of Norman French in the legislative process. And MPs still shout “hear, hear” when they agree with something one of them has said.

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

The Easy-ish Way to Create Believable, Unforgettable Fictional Worlds

From Writer Unboxed:

Worldbuilding gets a bad rap sometimes. If you ask certain people, worldbuilding is either for nerds looking for almanacs, not fiction, or it’s a useless distinction that should be an intrinsic part of writing.

But there are plenty of writers who recognize the essential nature of worldbuilding separate from the act of storytelling—for science fiction and fantasy, sure, but also for all genres. And there are a ton of amazing, detailed guides to creating worlds. But years ago, when I was first looking to build out the world I had created for my first foray into fantasy writing, I looked up resources for worldbuilding and quickly got bogged down in the sheer number of details these guides wanted me to know.

These guides offer hundreds of questions about the world you’re creating, insinuating that answering each one will lead to developing a believable, original world. I found weeks-long online courses dedicated solely to building a world from scratch.

I like to call these types of resources sandboxes. They give you lots of blank space to play around. “Where are the mountain ranges in your world?” they ask. “What military tactics does each nation in your world use?”

These are good questions, depending on the type of story you’re writing. Sandboxes are fun places for free play and for letting the mind run wild.

But once I had determined the election procedures of a specific political party in my book, which was decidedly not about election procedures or political parties, I was left no closer to a better story. I wondered: “…Now what? What does this have to do with my story?”

This is how I came to begin thinking about story-first worldbuilding.

Story-first worldbuilding falls somewhere on the worldbuilding opinion spectrum between “almanac” and “intrinsic” by exploring the details of the world around the story you want to tell. You don’t need to know where every mountain range is in your world unless your characters intend to cross them. What follows are a set of exercises that are geared mainly toward writers of fantasy who are creating secondary worlds, but hopefully applicable to all writers. The goal of these exercises to help you build a believable world that will add depth and color to the story you want to tell—without making you spend hours writing out the dominant flora on a continent your story will never visit.

How to Build a World Around the Story You Want to Tell

To complete the following exercises, I will assume that you have at least a smidgen of a story idea in mind. It’s okay if it’s not a fully fleshed-out plot yet. I will also assume that, since you have a story idea, you also have a vague impression of the world in which it’s set. It’s okay if most of the world is a blurry mess at this point.

This section contains a couple of exercises to get your mind thinking about how your world interacts with your story. The exercises are intended to be done in order, but this isn’t school. Do what’s most helpful to you.

Exercise #1: Write down everything you already know about your story’s world.

Set a timer for five, 10, or 30 minutes—however much time you think you need—and write out everything you already know about the world in which your story takes place, stream-of-consciousness style. Focus on the parts of your story you’ve either written or can picture clearly in your head. For example, if you know a critical scene in the climax involves an escape from a desert prison, write, “There’s a prison in the desert.” Do not consult Wikipedia’s list of desert flora and fauna. Even if you list things that are contradictory or illogical, write them all down anyway. Give yourself permission to let your mind run free. Important: This is not the time to make up new things about your world. If new ideas come to mind as you’re writing, don’t stop to examine them—just write them down and keep going.

When your time is up, read back over what you wrote. What are the things that are intrinsic or critical to your story and/or characters?

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed