Our pastor was talking about a number of social media posts he came across, things like #boredoutofmymind or #boredathome. I can’t imagine being bored (frankly, I’d welcome a little of it).

Hopefully, we’ll see a huge increase in creative juices come out of this. Some of the greatest literary works were accomplished because the author couldn’t go anywhere. Same with scientific breakthroughs.

If nothing else, I’m sure we’re going to see a bit of population uptick in nine months.

Frankly, the stay at home order has been a godsend. It has been very productive for me.  Against Flesh and Blood has been published, and I’ve been editing the third book in the series, The Judas Tree.

I’ve also done some serious work on the first book in the next trilogy, On a Pale Horse, and started laying more of the foundation for RJs standalone adventure called Dead Cold.

The biggest thing is it’s given me a chance to go through and do some really intense editing on Judas Tree.

I’ve talked about some of the tools I use, but let’s go a little deeper.

First, just reading it. Now this isn’t just reading. What I’m looking at is every word and punctuation mark (or in some cases, lack thereof). In addition to typing “out” when I mean “our” or “She” when I meant “He,” I also catch things like sentences without a period. Or two or three “The”‘s in a row. Same with “ilvice

This meme is invaluable advice. What would the reader see (or not see).

A number of times I start a thought, and never finished it. I may have finished it in my head, but that didn’t make it to the keyboard.

While I’m doing this, I’ve got word spell check up and running. Very useful took because it lets you know things like misspells, sometimes punctuation, and catches sentence fragments and the like.

Once done, I run it through Grammarly. Grammarly compliments Spell Check because it catches a lot of things Spell Check doesn’t. It can catch context, punctuation, and sentence structure. When I ran the entire manuscript through Grammarly, it came up with 3000+ errors or things it didn’t like.

It took three and a half days to surf through it and fix everything it objected to.

The final check is with Hemingway. Now the thing I hate most about Hemingway is it won’t do the entire manuscript in one setting (which is a good thing. It would scare me so bad I’d turn in my already dubious writers credentials). So what I’m doing is copying and pasting a chapter at a time into it. What it does is it goes through and looks at the manuscript from the POV of how readable is this thing. Then it gives you a grade (1 to 10). The lower the number, the better.

It looks at sentences that aren’t readable, number of adverbs, words that are past tense and so on.

Here’s an example:picture2

Hemingway objected to it, but it made me stop and think. How much of this sentence did I need. While I reference the El Perrito case (which happens in Against Flesh and Blood), I didn’t get into specifics of the investigation. All I’ve referenced is the information developed from his interview and the trivial fact that he died seven days into his prison sentence.

I really didn’t need to say how we IDed El Perrito. What I’m interested in here is the guards. I dropped the comma and ended the sentence right before the word “just” and deleted everything afterwards.

It got the point across without so many words.

Sometimes you have to make a gut call on it. In this sentence for instance:


Hemingway hated the sentence, and put it as difficult to read. I decided to ignore it because this is how a cop (especially one who was an MP and worked both MPI and DST) would talk.

I also had to make a gut call on a lot of conversations. If you haven’t noticed, very few people speak using perfect grammar. The common person throws a lot of adverbs and past tense meaning into their conversation. I had to make a the call of being true to the English language or the character.

Want to see Hemingway and Grammarly really go into orbit? Toss another language into the mix. Both of programs wigged out on the Spanglish often spoken by my characters.

On this chapter, and I’m not finished yet, it’s given me a grade of 2 or “Good”. Even after I’ve cleaned up all the crazy sentences and reduced the number of adverbs and past tense words as possible, I doubt it will give me a 1. But what I will have is a better, easier to read book.

Then I’ll let the manuscript cool for a few weeks, and then read it again. I may do a final check with Grammarly, and run only those sentences I change through Hemmingway. then I’ll turn it loose with some Beta Readers and see if they find anything.